The New York Yankees add some much-needed bullpen depth. Luis Avilan provides an excellent lefty option in the minor leagues.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the New York Yankees have signed left-handed reliever Luis Avilan to a minor league deal.
Yankees sign LHP Luis Avilan to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2020
Luis Avilan was with the New York Mets in 2019. His overall numbers don’t stand out as particularly effective. He posted a 5.06 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 8.4 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 and looked every bit like a minor league reliever.
Those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Avilan was struggling with injury issues early in the season. After he returned from the injured list he was a different pitcher. He posted a 3.00 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
What really stands out about Avilan though is his effectiveness against left-handed hitters. He’s about as shut down a reliever as there is in baseball against lefties. They hit just .102/.185/.184 against him in 2019.
The issue is that LOOGYs will no longer exist in 2020. Starting this season there is a three batter minimum for relievers. The only exception to that rule is if they record the final out in an inning. That makes it incredibly hard for a pitcher like Avilan to get a major league job.
However, it makes him amazing depth in the minors. The Yankees don’t have many options if they lose any of their relievers to a long term injury. Their major league bullpen is deep enough that it could likely sustain the hit, but they didn’t have a strong major league ready replacement after trading Stephen Tarpley.
Avilan will provide the Yankees with that kind of depth. This isn’t a flashy signing that will get fans excited, but it’s still a strong one. It’s often the strong depth signings that win championships, not the big-name signings.
New York Yankees fans know all about that after their rollercoaster 2019 season.