How do you spell relief?
Yankees looking to strengthen bullpen with Gagne
Posted: Sunday July 29, 2007 12:56AM; Updated: Sunday July 29, 2007 2:43AM
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The Yankees are working on a two-pronged makeover of their bullpen that could significantly enhance their chances to get back to the playoffs for a 13th straight season, if only they can pull it off.
It won't be easy.
The first part of their plan involves acquiring "Game Over'' closer Eric Gagne, who happens to be one of the best closers of this or any era. Gagne once converted 84 straight saves and has converted an all-time best 96.2 percent of save chances (177-for-184). If he's willing, he would make a wonderful setup man for the Yankees.
The second, and perhaps somewhat easier part, involves ridding themselves of Kyle Farnsworth, the 99-mph-throwing setup man who's consistently proving that New York isn't the place for him. He may interest the Dodgers, among others. L.A. just called to inquire about Farnsworth, possibly indicating that its talks regarding Royals setup man Octavio Dotel have cooled.
(As a backup to the Yankees' first plan, it is believed the Royals also are speaking to the Yankees about Dotel, who likely also interests the Tigers, Indians and Cubs.)
The Yankees, who desperately need a better bridge to star closer Mariano Rivera, could be the most likely landing for Gagne. But that's only if he goes anywhere, and there's no guarantee of that at this point.
There are two important reasons the Yankees may be Texas' best option:
However, working against the Yankees is the distinct possibility the Rangers keep Gagne, and either try to sign him or let him go and accept the two draft choices as compensation.
For Gagne, who is 16 of 17 in saves and 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA, Texas originally asked the Yankees for righthander Joba Chamberlain, the emerging star of the Yankees system who's another option for the Yankees to try to solve their eighth-inning woes. But while the Yankees have deemed Chamberlain untouchable and are also said to be unwilling to deal Ian Kennedy or Alan Horne, they have a number of other pitching hopefuls to dangle, such as Jeffrey Marquez and Tyler Clippard.
The Mets may also be interested in Gagne, especially after being rebuffed in efforts to land Nats closer Chad Cordero. The Red Sox also have shown interest, but Gagne can veto a trade to them.
Gagne's contract, which guarantees $6 million for this year, also provides for a potential $5 million in incentives based on games finished. It appears that since the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox would be interested in Gagne to set up their star closers, Gagne's financial situation could be affected unless accommodations were made to satisfy him.