Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are interested in signing hard-throwing righty reliever Jordan Hicks. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi added that the rival Houston Astros are too.

Hicks, 27, spent his entire pro career with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Blue Jays in July. He posted a 3.29 ERA for the year along with 12 saves. Hicks struck out 81 hitters in 65.2 innings and his strikeout rate (K%) finished in the 88th percentile.

The Yankees, of course, would love to have Jordan Hicks in their bullpen. Not only does he have a blazing fastball whose average velocity was over 100 mph in 2024, but he’s also a soft contact specialist. His career groundball rate (GB%) is 60.4% and his career soft contact rate (Soft%) is 21.6%. Hicks also throws a strong, biting slider.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Yankees All-Star closer Clay Holmes is essentially the same pitcher, but with less velocity. His average fastball velocity is a mere 96.1 mph.

Granted, building bullpens has proven general manager Brian Cashman’s specialty. Jordan Hicks is an objectively great bullpen arm as it is. Of course Cashman wants him on the Yankees and quieting bats in the hard-hitting AL East.

But furthermore, adding Jordan Hicks could be a case of the Yankees playing the long game. Holmes is a solid closer, but he’s a free agent next winter and nearly 31 years old. Hicks is not only younger, but won’t demand a closer’s salary. He has 32 saves in five years.

Hicks could also thrive in the closer’s role too. His career ERA in save situations is a stellar 0.86 and 2.63 in the ninth inning. That’s enough of a reason to make Hicks a setup man in 2024 with the goal of handing him the closer’s reins in ’25.

The Astros’ interest should be an extra motivator for the Yankees too. Even if the Yankees bounce back next season, the road to October almost certainly runs through Houston.

Perhaps Jordan Hicks should be a priority while the starting pitching market develops.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.