The New York Yankees have taken a relatively payroll-friendly and homegrown approach to building its relief corps in recent years, and that strategy has paid dividends as the team’s bullpen had the best ERA in MLB last season and ranks in the top six so far for 2024.

GettyNew York Yankees closer Clay Holmes is set to hit free agency with the biggest payday of his career ahead

Closer Clay Holmes embodies the results of this approach, as he’s currently tied for the MLB lead in saves but well outside of the top-five in contract value, earning just $6 million this season.

However, with free agency looming at the end of the season, that seems poised to change with a significant new contract as one of the game’s most dependable closers. At this point, it’s hard to say what that could mean for the Yankees’ roster.

“No, the Yankees hadn’t approached him this offseason about a possible contract extension with free agency looming in the winter,” Brendan Kuty of The Athletic reported. “He’s trying his best not to think about it, though he said he can’t ‘totally ignore’ that it’s coming.”

New York Yankees Closer Clay Holmes Could Get $52 Million Deal in Offseason

Kuty’s colleague, Tim Britton, projected Holmes’ next deal at $52 million over four years, urging the team to “get this deal done now.”

But the Yankees haven’t spent that significantly on the bullpen since they signed Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract in 2016. Signing a premier closer, which Holmes has proven himself to be, would be a departure for the team’s recent strategy to “cycle through relievers without hefty contracts,” as Pete Caldera put it for

However, they might have little choice but to meet Holmes’ asking price.

“Without Holmes, the Yankees would be in a tough spot,” Kuty added. “It’s unclear whom the Yankees would try to plug into the closer role next year from their current crop of options. (Tommy) Kahnle and (Jonathan) Loaísiga will be free agents. Righty Ian Hamilton appears the most likely candidate, but he’s pitched just one full season in the majors at 28 years old.”

The Yankees’ current bullpen also includes Victor Gonzalez, who has earned two saves this season, as well as Caleb Ferguson and Dennis Santana, each of whom have one save. The upcoming free agent class has been projected to include closers Kenley Jansen, Ryan Pressly, Paul Sewald and Craig Kimbrel, alongside Holmes.

Chapman could be on the market as well, but otherwise, Holmes is likely to be the only available closer who has proven he can handle pitching for the Yankees, improving his arsenal each season. In addition to a sinker that is his go-to, he’s developing several sliders that have “been huge” to his success.

Clay Holmes Will Focus on Winning for the New York Yankees Despite Upcoming Free Agency

A lot can happen between now and when the time comes for the Yankees to start building their bullpen of the future in earnest. And while Holmes can’t ignore the fact that the biggest payday of his career is just months away, he said he’s more focused on the things that got him to this point.

“I’ve got a good relationship here with coaches and players, and I’m just enjoying that and enjoying where I’m at right now,” Holmes told Kuty. “When the day comes that I’m no longer a Yankee, we’ll think about where that goes. But this is where I’m at and I’m going to try to help us win as many games as I can.”