Otero, 35 later this month, was brilliant with the Indians from 2016-17, pitching to a combined 2.14 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and a 63 percent ground-ball rate in 130 2/3 innings of relief. However, he’s become increasingly homer-prone over the past two seasons (1.83 HR/9), and this past season’s 53.2 percent grounder rate marked roughly a 10 percent drop for the sinkerballer. Otero’s ability to avoid walks remains among the very best in baseball — eight walks in his past 88 1/3 innings — but the 89.5 mph he averaged on his sinker in 2019 was the lowest velocity of his career.
Hale, meanwhile, is a more familiar face for Yankees fans. The 32-year-old has gone through multiple stints with the Yankees over the past two seasons and threw quite well in 2019. Hale racked up 37 2/3 innings in a long relief role in 2019 and notched a tidy 3.11 ERA with a 23-to-7 K/BB ratio and an even 50 percent ground-ball rate.
Incredibly, this is the fifth minor league contract that Hale has signed with the Yankees since Jan. 2018. He originally signed a minor league pact with New York on Jan. 30 that year. Hale had his contract selected that April, landed with the Twins on a waiver claim and was released not long after. He returned to the Yankees on a second minor league deal, was again released following a DFA two weeks later, and re-signed with the Yanks the following day. Hale then re-signed with the Yankees on a minor league deal last winter and has now put pen to paper with them yet again.
Both pitchers will compete for spots in a crowded Yankees bullpen alongside fellow non-roster veterans Tyler Lyons and Luis Avilan. The top end of the Yankees’ relief corps looks to be largely set, health permitting, as Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahlne should all be locks. Others such as Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller and the out-of-options Luis Cessa will compete alongside the non-roster players in Spring Training as they hope to land a spot on the Opening Day roster as well.