This season is far from over. Despite the loss last night the Yankees are 2.5 games out of the wildcard with some time to catch up. That said, it’s never to early to look at the free agent market and fantasize about different players in pinstripes. This year there are actually some formidable free agents who could certainly make the Yankees better. Consider the fact that A-Rod could accept a one season suspension next year, saving the Yankees mounds of money which won’t even count towards the cap. There’s every reason to think that the Yankees will make a splash in the free agent market this year.
The question, however, is who can they go after with the A-Rod money (and the money from not resigning Granderson). The obvious answer is that a good portion of that money has to go to Robinson Cano. He has to be resigned and he’s going to have to take up a chunk of the money saved by the suspension. From there, many scenarios could play out.
One of the major positions the Yankees will look to address this offseason will be catcher. There are several catchers the Yankees could go after. Brian McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Ruiz, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia would all provide considerably more offense than the current lot of catchers. On the other hand, all but one (Carlos Ruiz) would bring defensive question marks to the table. Personally, I would love to see Brian McCann in the Bronx depending on the cost. He hit .270/.344/.489/.833 this season, with 19 homeruns in an injury shortened season. If healthy, he’s a huge upgrade offensively at the position.
I doubt if the Yankees pursue a first or second baseman outside of the organization given that Mark Teixeira will be healthy and they will likely resign Robinson Cano. If they do choose to go that route, there are some decent options though. James Loney, Kendrys Morales, and Mike Morse are all free agents this year. I’m not sure if any of them would be willing to sign on as a DH, but they could be helpful to the team in that role as well.
There will be a rather large PED induced hole in the Yankees infield next year at third base. There’s really not much out there in terms of an A-Rod replacement though. Michael Young is an option, and so is Placido Polanco or Kevin Youkilis. It’s scary to think about what the Yankees will do at this position in 2014, because they don’t have any prospects that are close to filling that slot either. If I were Steinbrenner, I’d go pretty hard after Michael Young and hope that he can pick up where he left off in the second half this season. It’s slim pickings at third, and the Yankees have an obvious need.
The Bombers already have a full outfield next season, as Soriano, Gardner, and Ichiro will be in the mix. Knowing the Yankees though they will add another two guys to serve as lefty or righty specialists. Nelson Cruz would be a fun guy to target, but I doubt if the Yankees needs will match up with his contract demands. In other words, the Yankees aren’t desperate enough for an outfielder to dish out the type of contract Cruz will command. Corey Hart would be another interesting player to look at. He missed all of 2013 but if he can get back to his old self he is a shoe-in for 25+ home runs and an .800+ OPS. Carlos Beltran is another who would be a good choice if they were able to get him on a short term contract. Also, would it really be so bad to bring Curtis Granderson back? They could use the power output for sure.
Finally you look at starting pitchers, and there really are quite a few options. Solid pitchers like Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ricky Nolasco, Andy Pettitte, Jonathan Sanchez, Tim Lincecum, and dare I say? Josh Johnson will all be available this offseason to fill out the three available rotation spots that will be left behind by Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte. The last question is who will replace Mariano. I don’t think the answer lies with free agents. David Robertson has earned his shot and should be given the first crack at it.
Looking at all of this it becomes pretty clear that the Yankees have an opportunity to perform an extreme makeover Yankees edition this offseason. If they play their cards right there’s no reason they can’t put a better team on the field than the 2013 version. Steinbrenner should dub 2014 “Cashman’s last chance” and if he can’t make it happen it’s time to find a new GM, or more politely promote cashman and allow someone else to make the GM decisions.