The playoffs weren’t the easiest thing to watch for Yankees fans. The pitching was for the most part a big success, but it seemed like the offense never showed up. Even when they did win it wasn’t easy and they certainly never blew anybody out.
But it’s important to remember that this was a good team. They won the most games out of anybody in the American League, they hit more home runs than anybody in baseball, finished second in runs scored, and even did well with runners in scoring position (they finished 3rd in baseball with a .335 wOBA) despite the prevailing narrative put forth by the mainstream media that they struggled to get big hits.
Even their pitching staff, which was said to be a weakness a year ago, dominated during the playoffs despite never getting a single inning out of Michael Pineda and not having Mariano Rivera for most of the season.
So as we enter the postseason, I wanted to share this quote from Yankees GM Brian Cashman last night:
“You’ve got to get away from the emotions, the anger, the disappointment and whatever (word) you want to use,” Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “Step back, assess what you have, gravitate and wrap your arms around the ones you want to keep, try to pursue the ones you want to retain that are free agents, and then see what else is out there.”
With that in mind, here’s where the Yankees stand heading into the offseason.
- Alex Rodriguez, 3B: $114M through 2017
- Mark Teixeira, 1B: $90M through 2016
- CC Sabathia, SP: $94M through 2016
- Derek Jeter, SS: $17M through 2013
Arbitration Eligible Players (2012’s salary)
- Phil Hughes, SP: $3.2M (third time eligible)
- Brett Gardner, OF: $2.8M (second time eligible)
- Casey McGehee, IF: $2.5375M (second time eligible, non-tender candidate)
- Boone Logan, RP: $1.875M (fourth time eligible)
- Joba Chamberlain, RP: $1.675M (third time eligible)
- David Robertson, RP: $1.6M (second time eligible)
- Robinson Cano, 2B: $15M club options with $2M buyout
- Rafael Soriano, RP: can opt-out of final one year, $14M and take $1.5M buyout
- Curtis Granderson, CF: $13M club option with $2M buyout
- Pedro Feliciano, RP: $4.5M club option
- David Aardsma, RP: $0.5M club option
- Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Lowe, Mariano Rivera, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Russell Martin, Freddy Garcia, Andy Pettitte, Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and Eric Chavez.
The Yankees goal of reaching a $189 million payroll isn’t until 2014 so that means they could exceed it this offseason, but that any multi-year contracts need to keep future payroll flexibility in mind.
First thing is first, the Yankees will pick up the options for Cano, Granderson and Aardsma. They will be saying goodbye to Feliciano and we’ll hear whether Soriano will opt-out or not. He’s expected to opt-out.
Then the Yankees will turn their attention to their own free agents. Whether or not Pettitte is looking to retire or comeback will probably be the top priority, but he has gone into January and February in the past before making a decision. They will also want to know what Kuroda wants to do. If he’s looking to stay on a one-year deal then it will probably happen. He may decide he wants a multi-year deal or he could retire and in either case that means he’s gone.
Bringing back Rivera will probably also be a priority, but after he made $15 million sitting on the DL this season, the Yankees may decide that he needs to take a paycut. This could make things interesting if he resists. I could see him retiring before signing with another team though.
Finally, there is Martin. The Yankees offered him a three-year, $20 million extension a year ago. After the tough season he had at the plate it seems like they would offer less this time around, but they may elect to check out the free agent market instead. He may actually be the one who decides to test the free agent market if the Yankees are unwilling to offer him a multi-year deal. This is going to be a tough decision for the Yankees. They’ll have to find a catcher one way or another because it seems very hard to imagine they would go with a rookie in Austin Romine to handle their pitching staff.
The rest of the free agents will either be let go or they will wait until the end of the offseason like they did with Chavez last offseason. They could do the same thing again with Chavez and possibly Ibanez although Garcia is probably done.
After all of that then they can turn their attention to Swisher. He’s rumored to be looking for a Jayson Werth type contract which was seven years and $126 million. It’ll be hard for him to get that kind of money after the poor October he just went through, getting benched and all, but he will likely get plenty of multi-year offers possibly in the $80-$100 million range.
It’s possible that the Yankees could afford to sign Swisher to a big, multi-year contract, but that would mean some hard decisions. For one thing, they wouldn’t be able to afford both Cano and Granderson a year from now. That’s probably not a huge issue, but there are other potential free agents they won’t even be able to bid on – Josh Hamilton, who isn’t likely to be a Yankee anyway, would be the first major name they’d miss.
The other major is what to do with Alex Rodriguez — to trade him or not. He has five years left on his deal and a full no trade clause. The rumor is that he would waive it to leave the Bronx, but that’s pure speculation. Still, the Yankees will probably at least consider it. There aren’t many options they have, but the Dodgers and Marlins are two possibilities. They would probably have to eat a lot of the $114 million he’s owed or take on large, unwanted contracts, or both in order to trade him.
One last person I want to mention is Ichiro. He’s likely gone as he might be too big of a question mark heading forward. He did very well with the Yankees, but the problem is that he was replacing Gardner, who will be back next year, and before joining the Yankees he had nearly two seasons of pretty bad decline. There is a serious question as to whether or not he could have a solid productive season over the long haul as a 39-year-old. Even if the Yankees thought he could be productive there is a question as to whether a Gardner-Granderson-Ichiro will provide enough production for the Yankees to be happy. My guess is that Ichiro will not be back, but it really depends on how the rest of the team works out and ultimately how much money he’s looking for.