Yankees receive a second blow in relief market, lose Middleton to Cardinals

Ex-Yankees bullpen member Keynan Middleton during the 2023 season.

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The New York Yankees bullpen took a hit as Keynan Middleton inked a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night. As confirmed by Joel Sherman of The Post, this development leaves the Yankees once again in pursuit of bullpen options.

Middleton, acquired during last year’s trade deadline, made a strong impression in his brief stint with the Yankees, showcasing an impressive 1.88 ERA and recording 17 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. His status as a “Statcast darling,” evident in elite exit velocity and a high whiff rate, marked him as a valuable asset.

Expressing satisfaction with the current situation, Middleton stated that there aren’t many other places he’s considering. He emphasized his positive experience with the team and conveyed a desire to return, acknowledging the uncertainty surrounding the final decision.

Yankees miss on Middleton

Despite expressing openness to a return to the Yankees in October, Middleton ultimately opted for a different destination. While he favored staying with the team, he recognized the presence of stars like Cole, Holmes, and King, valuing the learning experience gained from them.

This news follows the Yankees missing out on another reliever, Wandy Peralta, who signed with the San Diego Padres earlier in the week. While the addition of Matt Gage off waivers was a positive move, the quest for reliable bullpen arms continues.

As the relief market shrinks, the Yankees are faced with a crucial decision: stick with current options or make a significant move to address bullpen concerns before the season begins. This setback underscores the urgency of reinforcing their relief corps, a task that GM Brian Cashman must handle diligently in the remaining weeks leading up to spring training.

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