Clay Holmes prioritizes recognition over Yankees contract extension talks

Yankees closer Clay Holmes at the 2024 spring training camp.
Sara Molnick
Wednesday March 6, 2024

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New York Yankees closer Clay Holmes made a polished appearance on Tuesday afternoon, visiting the Mets’ clubhouse at Clover Park. His attire mirrored his performance on the mound that day – a crisp button-down shirt (camouflage) neatly paired with slacks that revealed clean white shoes. After the game, Clay Holmes made it clear that his focus was on the upcoming season, not on the extension talks with the Yankees.

This professional demeanor extended to his interaction with reporters. Clay Holmes fielded questions from three journalists with ease, much like he efficiently retired the side during his first spring training outing, a 5-4 loss to the Mets.

Clay Holmes’ focus, however, wasn’t on his sharp appearance. He prioritized addressing his physical condition, emphasizing that he feels excellent. This is positive news considering his workload – for the second year in a row, he surpassed 63 innings pitched last season.

“I felt like coming out of last year, I was in a really good spot physically,” the closer told. “I was able to build off that in the offseason. I feel as good as ever right now.”

“I feel good. It’s good just to feel the game speed and the game routine. It was good to focus on strike one.”

New York Yankees closer Clay Holmes displayed unwavering confidence when questioned about the team’s bullpen following the departures of Wandy Peralta and Michael King. Despite losing these valuable relievers, He believes the unit – widely considered the league’s best last year – can maintain its dominance.

This optimism stems from the mix of returning veterans, exciting newcomers, and talented non-roster invitees competing for spots this spring training. Clay Holmes clearly sees the potential for a strong bullpen once again.

The press conference didn’t shy away from trickier topics. Entering a contract year with his future uncertain, Clay Holmes remained remarkably composed. He emphasized his unwavering focus on the ultimate prize: a World Series win. Clay Holmes made it clear that contract negotiations or potential free agency next winter haven’t occupied any space in his mind – his current priority is solely on contributing to a championship run.

Clay Holmes’ ultimate aspiration

Yankees closer Clay Holmes at Tampa spring training camp on February 18, 2024.

Clay Holmes conveyed his aspirations, stating that he had always dreamed of winning the World Series in New York and believed they had a chance to achieve that goal this year. He emphasized his focus on the upcoming season, directing his mental energy towards it. Additionally, the closer expressed his affection for playing with the Yankees and his teammates, highlighting his anticipation for the year ahead and the journey it may bring.

“If we keep putting guys in good spots and guys trust their stuff, there’s no reason why we can’t repeat what we did last year,” he said.

“I always dream of winning a World Series in New York. I feel we have a chance to do that this year. That’s where I’m at. I’m looking forward to this season. That’s where my mental energy is toward. Obviously, I love playing for the Yankees. I love the guys in the locker room. With that being said, I look forward to this year and see where that goes.”

Since his arrival from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 2021 trade, Clay Holmes has established himself as a vital cog in the Yankees’ bullpen. He boasts a stellar 2.50 ERA across 154 2/3 innings pitched in pinstripes. Interestingly, all 44 of his career saves have come while wearing a Yankees uniform.

Yankees pitcher Clay Holmes with pitching coach Matt Blake.
yankees nation/ insta

Beyond his save total, Clay Holmes’ dominance is evident in another key statistic. Since his debut with the team on July 29, 2021, he ranks second among all qualified pitchers with a remarkable 69.1% ground ball rate. This ability to induce weak contact is a valuable asset for any reliever.

While occasional command issues may arise, Clay Holmes’ overall performance has been consistently elite, consistently meeting the high bar set for a closer. His reliability in nailing down victories and preserving leads is a cornerstone of the Yankees’ strategy. The ultimate goal, of course, is a return to the playoffs, and with Holmes anchoring the bullpen, the Yankees are confident they can thrive in October baseball.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone emphasized that Clay Holmes holds the pivotal role of closer for the team. Boone stressed the importance of Holmes performing at a high level for the team to meet its expectations. Acknowledging his’ dynamic abilities as a reliever, especially during periods of peak performance in recent years, Boone highlighted the significant impact Holmes can have on the team’s success.

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