New York Yankees Tommy Kahnle
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Tommy Kahnle, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected to miss at least most of the 2021 season.

On Saturday afternoon, the New York Yankees announced that relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle has elected free agency. Many were taken aback once the news was broken, but it was expected.

Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2020 and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2021 season. Kahnle was set to make $2.7 million next year but would then become an unrestricted free agent in 2022, hence the decision.

It’s one that makes sense and will be beneficial to both parties.

The Yankees might be interested in bringing Kahnle back on a minor-league rehab deal, but this move allows the Yankees to clear a spot on the 40-man roster as well as $2.7 million off the books.

Fans might hope that the Yankees are able to work something out with him — after all, he was the team’s best reliever before going down in August and his absence was glaring throughout the remainder of the regular season and in the playoffs.

However, the Yankees should exercise caution when deciding whether to eventually give Kahnle a long-term deal.

Gifting a 32-year-old reliever coming off Tommy John surgery a lucrative, long-term deal is incredibly risky, especially if the Yankees are trying to win now.

The market for relievers is going to be packed this offseason and teams are avoiding paying a lot for players because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fact that reliever Brad Hand, who’s been one of the best in the game over the past few years, was placed on and then cleared waivers is evidence of that.

The Yankees must stop at nothing to acquire multiple bullpen arms since they will be accessible, and the new additions might prove to be more valuable than Kahnle whenever he does return.

In any event, if he doesn’t return, “Tommy Tight Pants” will be missed in New York.

Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.