The Top 10 Free Agents that fit in with the Yankees

Aroldis+Chapman+Minnesota+Twins+v+New+York+5GgNPn7adpjlThe Yankees sat out the free agent market entirely last offseason, but after missing the playoffs this year and the departure of Mark Teixeira providing financial flexibility there is a decent chance that the Yankees will test the market this year.

The biggest question marks in the Yankees lineup headed into 2017 are at first base, where they have to replace Teixeira, right field and DH. They are expected to let younger players battle it out for two of those positions, Greg Bird and Tyler Austin will battle for first base, and Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Austin will compete for time in field.

DH could also be filled internally with Brian McCann, but his numbers play up better at DH. With McCann more valuable as a catcher on another team than with the Yankees as a DH, it seems likely that the Yankees will explore the possibility of trading McCann and signing someone else as their DH. Even if they fail to trade McCann, the Yankees could look for another bat to platoon with him as McCann hit just .218/.317/.345 against lefties last year.

The rotation has a couple of holes as it’s currently just three deep with Mashiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. Another spot could be filled internally with Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green or Bryan Mitchell, even Adam Warren, but they’ll likely explore the market for other options. As for the bullpen, the Yankees have already made it known that they will be aggressive in adding a Aroldis Chapman type. They’ll probably add a few middle relievers too. Cashman likes to try out multiple no-name relievers hoping that one has a big year so expect them to sign three or four guys under that scenario.

Prior to making any trades, the Yankees are headed into the offseason looking for at least one starter, multiple relievers both high and low end, and possibly a DH/1B type. An outfielder isn’t off the table, but would probably require GM Brian Cashman to trade either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury.

With all of that in mind here are the top 10 free agents that the Yankees could target this offseason:

  1. Yoenis Cespedes, OF – projected salary: Five years, $125 million. This one is definitely the most unlikely on the list, but I wanted to have a little fun with this, and besides, he would look great in the lineup behind Gary Sanchez. This one would require a trade of either Ellsbury or Gardner. Cespedes has averaged a .277/.326/.506 line over the last three years.
  2. Aroldis Chapman, RHRP – projected salary: Five years, $90 million. If the Yankees make a big splash this offseason this is most likely where it will happen. Chapman is in his prime and won’t cost a free agent draft pick. With money to invest, they could go hard after Chapman. He has averaged a 1.72 ERA, 15.7 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 over his last three seasons.
  3. Kenley Jansen, RHRP – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Five years, $85 million. The Yankees no. 2 target on the closer market. Jansen will cost a draft pick, and at 29 is a year older than Chapman, but if the Yankees miss out on Chapman this is clearly the place to turn. Jansen averaged a 2.32 ERA, 13.8 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9.
  4. Jeremy Hellickson, RHSP – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Four years, $60 million. This is potentially the best pitcher in a very thin free agent market. Hellickson was once the rookie of the year, but had three mediocre seasons before he turned it around this year with a 3.71 ERA. Over his last three seasons, he’s averaged a 4.18 ERA, a 7.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
  5. Mark Melancon, RHRP – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Four years, $52 million. This is Plan C for the bullpen, but more realistically he could be Plan A1 or B1 as there is a chance that the Yankees could go big and add Melancon and either Chapman or Jansen. This former Yankee has averaged a 1.93 ERA, an 8.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 over his last three seasons.
  6. Jose Bautista, RF/DH – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Three years, $51 million. Here’s another longshot, but he definitely fits as he could provide insurance at first, third, and right field while serving as the primary DH. Problem is that he’s 36 and his numbers have declined each of the last three years. He hit just .234/.366/.452 (still better than McCann) last year. Three year average: .259/.383/.508.
  7. Rich Hill, LHSP – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Three years, $50 million. Hill was briefly out of baseball in 2015, but came back strong with the Red Sox and then had another big season this year. As a starter, he is a bit of a gamble, but it could pay off as the former Yankee had a 2.00 ERA with a 10.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 over his last two years.
  8. Jason Hammel, RHSP – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Three years $42 million. Another veteran starter, Hammell has never managed to reach 200 innings pitched in 11 seasons as a starter. He’s not terrible though with a 3.68 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 over his last three seasons.
  9. Mike Napoli, DH – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: Two years, $28 million. Here’s a definite candidate for the DH spot. A shoddy injury history, but he has real power. He might have to agree to a one-year deal for the Yankees to sign him. Napoli from 2014-2016: .237/.343/.435.
  10. Carlos Beltran, DH – MLBTradeRumors projected salary: One year, $14 million. Going into his age 40 season, Beltran is a bit of a risk, he did slow down as the year went on, but .295/.337/.513 is still damn impressive overall. If the Yankees deal McCann, they’ll be a great fit for Beltran on a one-year deal. Three year average: .271/.327/.468.

Other potential free agents the Yankees could be interested in include: Kendrys Morales, DH, Greg Holland, RHRP, Ivan Nova, RHSP, Brad Ziegler, RHRP, Bartolo Colon, RHSP, and Steve Pearce, DH.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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23 Responses to The Top 10 Free Agents that fit in with the Yankees

  1. Celerino says:

    I'd probably take a shot at Nova before the other pitchers listed. Interesting Nova stat: He had three complete games after he was traded to the Pirates. The entire Yankee staff had none.

  2. Mr. Puttzo says:

    Only be interested in Chapman or Melancon. Jansen would cost a draft pick and would only consider if Chapman signed elsewhere. Whomever signs Cespedes will be sorry, he's a lazy slug. The rest are no better then what we already have.

  3. tom says:

    Cespedes at RF and Rich Hill in the rotation could work. Having them aboard could make Severino and Judge expendable so Yankees can net a good SP.

    However, if Yankees weren't winning then we would suffer some headaches from Cespedes. I don't want Yankees to count on Cespedes to carry Yankees. Just treat him as an extra player. Are Yankees ready for that? Sanchez and Bird could suffer sophomore jinx. umm.

    Of course, Yankees would have to get rid of Ellsbury or Gardner and McCann to make big splash in FA. The cheapest price on closer will be all right with me. Never mind dominating statistic.

  4. tom says:

    AH… Yankees removed Pinder off for funky southpaw Mathanty (whatever it spells)

  5. tom says:

    OTT, Is there any update on Dillion Tate? He was supposed to be there for AFL's all star game last week but he was removed or disappeared. Any idea?

  6. Terry says:

    No Edwin E.? He'd be my pick way before Morales. We have the upcoming price break with all the youngsters lining up. ARod and CC coming off the books. Think of it as an investment, not only in power for the next few years. But also a mentor for your two young RH power hitters.Sanchez and Judge would benefit greatly from Double E. He's a beast and commands respect, a good club house guy. Double E and Chapman, we win now and we build the bridge to all that young talent

  7. Olie says:

    If they can re-sign Chapman the Yankees can compete in the East. Not sure there are any other free agents that can do that alone.

  8. Howard Rosenberg says:

    How about Judge and Mateo for JD Martinez?

    • tom says:

      I like that but Mateo as SS should be traded for a legit SP because many teams would kill something for athletic SS with potent offense.

    • mosc says:

      he's got 1 year of control left and really aught to be DH-ing. He's valuable but both of them? No. I'd offer Mateo though straight up but I don't think the Tigers care much about defense or the team past 2017 so I doubt they'd even consider it.

  9. Eric says:

    How about rebuilding the right way and letting our young players develope on our team instead of trading them away!

    • tom says:

      Minor system is cramming up now. Time to clear several for good returns.

      • Howard Rosenberg says:

        Agreed minors are filled with guys who need to move up, but you should not have a glut either.
        It seems like there are too many guys in front of him at SS and OF where he won't make the team.
        If we keep Didi long term, I do not see a spot for Mateo.
        Starlin Castro will probably be moved at some point to make room for Gleyber Torres.
        We are stuffed with outfielders where are you going to play him?
        I think Tom has the right idea we should trade him for a Starting pitcher, but I think he is traded this off season.

      • mosc says:

        It's funny to me because the minor system is certainly not cramming up full of position players. AAA had Judge, Sanchez, and Austin who already got called up along with Frazier but he certainly doesn't look like an opening day hopeful. Wade, Fowler, Andujar haven't even seen AAA yet and Torres, Mateo, Holder, and others are even further behind. AAA was mostly Kozma, Solano, Diaz, Parmelee, Gamel (who's gone), Puello, etc. None of those guys are 2017 hopefuls.

        The system is stock full of pitching prospects though at the AAA level (or guys like Chance Adams who had to wait in AA because AAA was so stacked) yet we talk about bringing in another pitcher, further blocking things, while wanting to move position players to make room.

        I just don't get where most Yankee fans heads are at. Who's the most blocked in the system? Could it be Jordan Montgomery? Lets count shall we:
        1) Tanaka
        2) Sabathia
        3) Pineda
        4) Green
        5) Mitchell
        6) Cessa
        7) Severino
        8) Warren
        9) Enns
        10) Notables Haynes / Lail / Coke / Blier who he's probably ahead of in talent but who had AAA starts galore in front of him

        That's 13 guys who had more starts in MLB/AAA in 2016 than Montogmery did (doesn't count Monty's AA exposure) and I'm not sure a lot of people don't have him behind Chance Adams as well.

        Do we hear anything about moving some of that to make room? No. We hear about Brett Gardner being a bad person for blocking… Mason Williams? Please.

  10. Balt Yank says:

    I don't see Chapman as worth that long of a deal. Look what happened in Game 7 of the WS. I like Melancon and Beltran and Jason Hammels. Three years for Hammels at his age seems risky.

  11. mosc says:

    1) Chapman
    2) Encarnacion
    3) Rich Hill
    4) Melancon
    5) Alvarez
    6) Beltran
    7) Dickey
    8) Walker
    9) Fowler
    10) Butler

    Certainly wouldn't sign all of these guys, perhaps none of them, but this is roughly a list of guys I'd be interested in if the price was right. Dickey's already gone I know that.

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