It’s a bit premature to look at the 2013-2014 offseason, especially because a lot can happen between now and then. With the recent trend of one year contracts, it’s also questionable whether the Yankees will continue to pursue aging veterans on short term deals in 2014.
Despite that, the Yankees will have plenty of money to spend after the 2013 season, and the free agent class as it stands today doesn’t look all that bad. It would be surprising if they didn’t target some top free agents, or at least their own top free agent when the time comes.
Without getting into the gory details of the calculations, by my estimation the Yankees will have about $100 million to spend on somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 players. That means they will have about $6.67 million per slot. Use a prospect at an important position, save $6 million. Re-sign Cano, then you better use some young players at important positions. You catch my drift.
This is most definitely an oversimplification, however the front office will have a considerable amount of money to spend on the 2014 roster and a reasonable amount of flexibility with how to use that money. This brings up the next question, who will be available to spend this money on? I’ll stick to positions the team has an obvious opening at, and the players who jumped off the page and piqued my interest when I looked at the list on MLBTR.
There’s not much in the way of catchers, and none at the age you would like to see. Brian McCann will be 30 and a free agent. The question is do you want to sign a 30 year old catcher to a long term deal? Outside of him there is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He has done it in the AL East, but do you want to pay premium dollars to him for the high homerun, low average hitter you’re going to get? If that’s the case, Russell Martin should have been re-signed this off-season.
At second base, there’s nothing that is going to come close to Robinson Cano. In this case, it’s Robinson Cano or you’re probably best off looking at in house options. Chase Utley will be 35, and the only other decent names are Alexi Casilla, Brian Roberts, and Aaron Hill. I’ll pass.
Jeter will be our shortstop, and Tex will be our first baseman. At third base, the Yankees are going to either have to look in house or basically go down the same list they did this year after A-Rod went down with injury.
In the outfield there is Nate McLouth (32), Jacoby Ellsbury (30), the Grandy Man (33), Hunter Pence (31), Shin-Soo Choo (31), and a bunch of old heads. There could be a deal to be had somewhere in that group. If so, another hole will be plugged.
There are a few pitchers who, if still available, would be good choices to fill the holes that will be left behind when Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes leave after this season. Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum, Matt Garza, Gavin Floyd, Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez, and Adam Wainwright are names that could end up being popular at the Winter Meetings next year.
As far as relievers go, I would hope the Yankees are smart enough not to spend too much given what they already have on their team and what they have on their farm.
How the Yankees choose to go about solving this puzzle is anyone’s guess. There is a huge amount of production to replace in 2014, and a limited amount of money to replace it with. One would have to imagine the game starts with signing a number two starter and giving it the old college try to get Cano back. After that, the chips can fall where they may as far as I’m concerned.
Someone between Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Ramon Flores, Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, and Abe Almonte should be ready to contribute by 2014, so the outfield should be covered. Third base, catcher, and the rest of the starting rotation will have to be addressed one way or another. There’s not enough money to sign a star, or even a Kevin Youkilis type at every position, so Cashman will have to develop some sort of strategy and get creative between now at then.
Many are calling 2013, or 2014, the end of the Yankees dynasty (and hopefully the beginning of another). Personally, I am not ready to say that the Yankees are poised to fall out of playoff contention just yet. Some serious challenges and questions lie ahead, but I still think there is a reasonable chance that those questions will be answered before the sky falls and the Yankees Universe implodes.