Yankees sign Adam Ottavino to add to already-potent bullpen

Blake SchusterYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
Adam Ottavino has come a long way since being drafted in 2006 and 2018 might’ve been his best season yet. (Getty Images)
Adam Ottavino has come a long way since being drafted in 2006 and 2018 might’ve been his best season yet. (Getty Images)

Adam Ottavino, the hard-throwing reliever coveted by many around Major League Baseball, has reportedly agreed to join the New York Yankees’ already-potent bullpen.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan says Ottavino’s deal with the Yankees is done and worth $27 million over three years. Ottavino joins a Yankees bullpen that already includes Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances and was one of the best in MLB last year.

The Yankees lost David Robertson to free agency, so Ottavino more or less slides into his role, and once again creates a daunting late-inning trio for any Yankees opponent. Outside of ex-Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel — who will demand a lot more money — Ottavino was the best relief pitcher left on the free-agent market.

In 2018, Ottavino appeared in 75 games for the Rockies, posting a 2.43 ERA with 112 strikeouts, 36 walks and five home runs allowed in 77.2 innings pitched.

The key for Ottavino has been perseverance. Once a failed prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals system, the former first-round pick rediscovered his game when the Colorado Rockies claimed him off waivers in 2012 and developed him into a fierce reliever with a nasty fastball-slider combo. That held true even after Ottavino suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament which required Tommy John surgery early in the 2015 season.

Ottavino appeared in just 34 games the following season but between the 2017 and 2018 became a shutdown setup man for the Rockies — even as the team played half its games in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. A big reason for that is Ottavino’s pitch selection. He primarily used his fastball-slider combination to attack hitters, while returning to a cutter that he’d mostly moved away from in Colorado until last season. With a fastball that sits at 94 miles per hour, a slider that averages 82 MPH, the cutter added a nice wrinkle to what was already a potent arsenal. His 2.6 Wins Above Replacement last year marked the best in any season for Ottavino and stands as the first time he’s finished with a WAR above two since before he suffered an elbow injury.

At 33-years-old, Ottavino finally appears to be reaching his peak and it’s almost too perfect that it happened right as free agency beckoned. Ottavino’s path took a much different route than most could’ve expected since being drafted in 2006, but nearly 12 years later, he’s found the top of his game and is a solid addition to any bullpen.

One interesting note about Ottavino landing in the Bronx: He made headlines this winter by saying he would “strike out Babe Ruth every time.” Sounds like a ballpark promo waiting to happen.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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