A free agent this offseason, the 33-year-old Adam Ottavino couldn't have picked a better time to have a career campaign in 2018, including a 2.43 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and a stellar 13.0 K/9 rate -- good for 112 total strikeouts, fifth most among full-time relievers last year.
Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the right-hander.
Ottavino's impact on Yankees' bullpen, Kimbrel's market
Jan. 17: Adam Ottavino appears to have a found a new home -- in his native state -- and the Yankees' bullpen has added yet another elite arm. The Yankees are closing in on Ottavino, according to Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the two sides have a deal in place for three years and $27 million, according to sources.
The 33-year-old Ottavino was born in New York and is coming off a career campaign in which he struck out a whopping 112 batters over 77 2/3 innings with a 2.43 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He joins a Yankees bullpen that features the following hard-throwing, strikeout-heavy relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green and lefty Zach Britton, who recently re-signed with New York after being acquired last year at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
One of the two high-end relievers left on the market, along with Craig Kimbrel, Ottavino reportedly also was being pursued by the Rangers and could have been a fit with the Braves, Cubs and Red Sox.
With Ottavino now off the board, Kimbrel has no clear competition as the biggest name among late-inning arms in free agency. A return to the Red Sox has been rumored, given that he served as their closer the past three seasons. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, however, has made it known that he doesn't expect to spend big on someone to handle the ninth inning, spurring speculation that Kimbrel may have to settle for a smaller deal than he has been seeking.
But will the Red Sox's plans change now that Ottavino no longer is an option?
Video: Ottavino reportedly signs with the Yankees
Ottavino is in good position amid active relief market
Jan. 16: No position has seen more action on the open market this offseason than relievers. Among the many elite late-inning arms to find deals: Andrew Miller (Cardinals), Zach Britton (Yankees), David Robertson (Phillies), Jeurys Familia (Mets) and Joakim Soria (A's).
A number of good relief pitchers remain available, but two stand out above the rest at this point -- Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino.
In a ranking of seven of the top remaining free agents besides Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, MLB.com's Richard Justice ranks Ottavino No. 6 and writes: "Ottavino and Kimbrel are the last of the elite relievers on the market. At 33, he may not get a deal longer than two years, but after a season that included 75 appearances and a 0.991 WHIP for the Rockies, he's going to be a major catch for some team."
As for which teams could ink Ottavino, Justice suggests the Red Sox, Braves and Cubs as potential landing spots for the 33-year-old. Boston indeed makes sense with the reigning champs' biggest need at the back of the bullpen; although it's possible they prefer to see what happens with Kimbrel, who closed for them the past three seasons.
Atlanta and Chicago also could use a boost at either setup reliever or closer, as both clubs have injury prone arms handling the latter role in Arodys Vizcaino and Brandon Morrow, respectively.
The Red Sox and Braves also have been connected to Kimbrel this offseason, so it could be interesting to see if there's a bit of a showdown between Kimbrel and Ottavino as the two clear-cut best relievers still out there.
Rangers remain interest in Ottavino
Jan. 13: The Rangers' roster is in a state of flux after the team went 67-95 last season. Texas moved on from nearly its entire starting 2018 starting rotation, and Adrian Beltre (retired), Jurickson Profar (traded) and Alex Claudio (traded) are also gone.
The club added Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Edinson Volquez, Shelby Miller and Jesse Chavez on low-risk deals, but it still has holes in the infield and bullpen. Although they could look to fill those areas internally, the Rangers are at least considering several veteran free agents, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Grant reports that the Rangers have remained in contact with Adam Ottavino, who is one of the top remaining free-agent relievers. Ottavino would provide a significant boost to a bullpen that has many question marks beyond Chavez and incumbent closer Jose Leclerc.
The Rangers' interest in Ottavino was first reported earlier this month by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who tweeted on Jan. 5 that Texas was a "semi-surprise entry at the top of the bullpen market." The Rangers also had interest in Zach Britton, per Heyman, but the southpaw has since re-signed with the Yankees.
Grant also mentions Derek Holland as a potential bullpen target, even though the left-hander spent much of last season in the Giants' rotation and recorded a 3.57 ERA over 171 1/3 innings. Holland was particularly good against same-sided batters in 2018, holding them to a .168/.252/.189 slash line, which suggests he could thrive as a reliever. The Rangers are familiar with Holland, who pitched for the club from 2009-16.
Here's why Ottavino could cash in this offseason
Jan. 8: Although Adam Ottavino was undoubtedly one of the best relievers in baseball this past season, he represents a somewhat risky option for potential free-agent suitors. After all, the right-hander recorded a 5.06 ERA with a 6.58 BB/9 mark in 2017 and is already 33 years old.
And yet, Ottavino is likely poised to land a lucrative multiyear deal at some point this offseason, as his outstanding repertoire makes it easy for teams to expect he'll be able to duplicate his 2018 success.
While Ottavino has a terrific sinker and a cutter that he worked hard to improve heading into last season, the slider is his money pitch.
MLB.com polled 85 big leaguers near the end of the regular season and asked them which pitcher's specific pitch is the nastiest of all right now. Ottavino was one of 10 pitchers to receive multiple votes for one of their offerings, as three players named his slider the absolute nastiest pitch in the game.
How might Herrera's deal impact Ottavino?
Jan. 7: The White Sox have been one club linked to Adam Ottavino -- arguably the second best remaining free-agent reliever after Craig Kimbrel -- in recent days, but that may change with the club agreeing to terms with fellow righty Kelvin Herrera, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Herrera's deal with Chicago, which is pending a physical, is for $18 million over two years with an option for a third year that would net the veteran flamethrower $27 million overall, Rosenthal reports.
While this move shouldn't take the White Sox out of the mix for either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, they may no longer see Ottavino as a priority, considering he essentially would fill a similar late-inning role as a setup reliever or closer.
Then again, it's possible Chicago -- which also acquired Alex Colome, another hard-throwing righty with closing experience, in a trade with the Mariners earlier in the offseason -- is interested in adding a number of high-upside relievers on multi-year pacts for trade purposes, as MLB Network Radio host Jim Bowden speculates.
Stockpiling assets that could be swapped in-season, when impact bullpen arms often are in high demand ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, can be a savvy investment, especially for rebuilding clubs. Could Ottavino be next for the White Sox, or will another suitor -- like the Yankees, Rangers or Red Sox -- decide now is the time to make a push for him?
Video: Herrera reportedly agrees to deal with White Sox
Red Sox-Yankees rivalry heats up over relief market
Jan. 6: The Yankees lost one potential bullpen target when David Robertson signed with the Phillies this week, but a source has told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that they have agreed to a deal that will reunite them with left-hander Zach Britton. How might this move impact the best two relievers remaining on the market, Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino?
It looks like Ottavino could be the next big-name reliever to find a new home, according to SNY's Andy Martino, who points out that the Yankees remain very interested -- to the extent that they're more focused on Ottavino than Manny Machado at the moment.
MLB.com's Richard Justice writes that as great as both the Red Sox (108 wins) and the Yankees (100 wins) were last season, we should prepare for even more excitement in the rivalry for 2019, given how the offseason is shaking out. Justice notes that Kimbrel is now an even more obvious fit with the Red Sox, and that bringing him back to Boston should be a pretty straightforward proposition given what New York is doing.
"All of a sudden, a six-year deal for free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel doesn't seem so outrageous, does it?" writes Justice. "That's especially true when you've just watched the Yankees construct baseball's best bullpen with a deal to bring back left-hander Zach Britton. ... Wait, what's that? Yankees general manager Brian Cashman may sign Ottavino as well? Reports indicate that's a possibility.
" ... And the Yanks would gain even more if Cashman wins the Machado sweepstakes. To add him to a lineup that hit 40 more home runs than any other AL club last season could set up one of the great division races we've ever had. He'd be nice leverage for Kimbrel in his talks with the Red Sox."
Kimbrel is reportedly looking for a deal in the neighborhood of five or six years; a six-year pact would be a record for a relief pitcher. He's among the elite closers in baseball, having posted a 1.91 career ERA with 333 saves, most among active relievers.
Get ready, because the AL East promises to be one of the most exciting divisions in baseball next season.