While the New York Yankees have been wheeling and dealing to bring all sorts of starpower to the Bronx and back to the Bronx, the Carlos Rodón signing seems to have squeezed a very solid player off of the club's 40-man roster.
35-year-old Lucas Luetge, one of the most underrated southpaw relievers in today's game, was designated for assignment to make room for Rodón on the Yankees' 40-man roster.
Luetge began his big league career all the way back in 2012 as an oft-used but also relatively untrustworthy bullpen option for the Mariners. He was up and down between the majors and minors in each season from 2012 to 2015.
He had bounced around the minor leagues in each season from 2015 to the 2021 campaign, making appearances for each of the Angels, Orioles, Reds and Diamondbacks organizations but never performing well enough to resurface in the majors.
Then 2021 rolled around and the Yankees took a chance on Luetge, bringing him aboard on a minor league contract with an invite to major league Spring Training. He took the opportunity and ran with it, taking a big league mound for the first time in just under six years.
Since then, Luetge has been utterly dominant for the Yankees, making his DFA something of a surprise. In a total of 107 games over the past two seasons, the 6'4" southpaw has a sparkling ERA of 2.71 with an equally-impressive 2.92 FIP and a 153 ERA+.
He strikes guys out with high regularity and does an impeccable job of limiting walks and the longball. Last year alone in 57+ innings, Luetge walked only 17 and allowed just four home runs.
On Statcast, Luetge's value is really hammered home. Last year, he ranked near the top of the league in fastball spin and was in the 100th-percentile in HardHit% and average exit velocity, meaning when he induced contact, it was extremely weak.
An interesting note in Luetge's scouting report is that he doesn't throw the ball very hard. At all. His repertoire is highlighted by a cutter (avg 88mph), slider (77mph) and huge sweeping curveball that sits around 73mph.
He is a left-handed specialist in a time where the lefty specialist has largely gone away thanks to the new rule that a pitcher must face at least three batters before being pulled from the game. Over the course of his career, he has held left-handed batters to a .220 average and a 68 OPS+.
I think the fit on the Blue Jays roster and in their bullpen is a rather obvious one. As of right now, the only left-hander available is Tim Mayza with Matt Gage also on the 40-man roster but projected to start 2023 in the minors.
Trevor Richards stands out as an obvious candidate to lose his spot in favor of someone like Luetge. The Jays could claim him on waivers and add him to the active roster and 40-man roster while designating Richards for assignment, immediately upgrading the bullpen corps for next season.
Last year, a combination of Jordan Romano, Yimi García, Anthony Bass and Adam Cimber led one of the more lethal but underrated bullpens in the league. Now, Erik Swanson has been added to the fold and bringing a Lucas Luetge aboard would do nothing but help the Jays moving forward.