The New York Yankees are attempting to bolster their bullpen, and they have been connected with free agent relievers Javier Lopez, Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour, according to Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. In particular, Lopez and the Yankees have "expressed mutual interest," reports McCullough.
With the retirement of Mariano Rivera at the end of last season, the Yankees are in the market for a closer for the first time since 1997. Furthermore, right-hander Joba Chamberlain is expected to sign elsewhere, and left-handed specialist Boone Logan is also a free agent. Logan, who posted a 3.23 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 39 innings last year, also underwent a minor procedure on his elbow in October. His uncertain status is the motivation for New York to pursue the 35-year-old Lopez, who pitched his way to a 1.83 ERA last year for the San Francisco Giants and a 2.26 ERA in 147⅓ innings since being acquired by the team midseason in 2010. Lopez has also been a part of three World Series winners (2007 Red Sox, 2010, 2012 Giants), and the Yankees might be attracted by that postseason experience.
Nathan and Balfour have been mentioned as possible ninth-inning replacements for Rivera. It is unclear how much interest New York has in either pitcher, nor how how much the Yankees would be willing to spend to secure their services, but they are two of the top closers on the market. Nathan, who turns 39 on Nov. 22, saved 43 games in 46 chances last year while posting a 1.39 ERA. Balfour, who turns 36 in December, saved 38 games in 41 chances with 2.59 ERA.
The Yankees' current relief corps includes set-up man David Robertson and right-handers Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Preston Claiborne.