Ichiro wants to come back to Yankees for 2013
Taking a stab at next year’s finished product could be difficult when it comes to a lot of franchises. However, the New York Yankees are in an obvious holding pattern. It would be silly to assume they are anything other than a franchise without the option of rebuilding and rather, in charge of reloading with a new core very soon.
The Yankees will try to match the talent and hope for some better health from a 2012 version which won baseball’s most difficult division and captured home field advantage throughout the championship series. They will have to do this with almost no external commitment beyond 2013.
Here’s a look at each portion of the team and the only Free Agents worth pursuing to fill the holes.
Possible Free Agents:
Keep in mind, this is not the full list of FA but a sample of intriguing names. Also make note, the Yankees will likely resign two FA’s not listed in Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, who would both sign on one year deals. Likely, the Yankees go to battle with Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova with Phelps and some in-house names there to provide depth and challenge Nova, who is coming off a down year.
Michael Pineda is not to be counted on but represents a wild card for the future.
The Yankees could look into signing a guy like Greinke or trading for a guy like Haren, and then would likely trade a player like Hughes with high trade value right now to fill another need, but that would be relying on Nova to bounce back and Greinke to handle the pressure in New York or Haren to be completely healthy.
It seems more likely New York goes to battle with Pettitte and Kuroda and hopes Pineda and Phelps replace them in 2014 with possibly a Free Agent in that class mixed in.
In other words, outside of a veteran on a one year deal, the Yankees aren’t likely to sign someone from FA not seen in the Bronx in 2012.
This is the most solidified of all aspects of the team for next season. Mariano Rivera will have a one year deal worked out and Rafael Soriano is officially gone. There won’t be anything from Free Agency involved here.
The Yankees will bank on David Aardsma now two years removed from Tommy John surgery with the potential to make an impact, along with Cesar Cabral, a lefty who was likely to start on the roster in 2012 if not for a season-ending spring training injury. Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley will likely battle for spots along with Phelps if he is not needed in the rotation.
It’s very unlikely the Yankees start 2013 without three of these four names in the outfield. Gardner and Granderson are under contract and if Granderson is going to get traded, it will be a move that is unpredictable, but it’s safe to assume they will both be there, potentially flip flopped, in 2013.
That leaves right field with Hunter and Suzuki. Both will likely look for one year deals and both are obvious stop gaps, but with more speed and a left-handed bat, Ichiro probably makes more sense here. Hunter will have other suitors whereas Ichiro is likely to want to return to New York assuming he is willing to settle on a one year deal.
Free Agents: Tough to say
Eduardo Nunez will be in the mix and the Yankees have a backup catcher competition in Eli Whiteside, Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli at the very least, but none of those guys can be the primary catcher. It’s entirely likely the Yankees look to bring Russell Martin back on a one year deal since he is coming off a down year but still demonstrated a strong game-calling ability and 20 home run power.
Martin, like Ichiro, is a perfect stop-gap to lead the way towards prospects in two positions the Yankees have depth. Everyone else is set in stone, but expect Nunez to get plenty of at bats to back up Jeter, who will be recovering from a fractured ankle.
Adding Martin, Kuroda, Pettitte, Nunez, a backup catcher previously mentioned, and one of Ichiro and Hunter implies about 21 roster spots already claimed. Throw in two relievers mentioned and the Yankees still have a couple of bench spots to fill. The fourth outfielder may very well end up being Chris Dickerson, another in-house candidate who has demonstrated he can hit at the big league level and has athleticism.
New York will likely see if Eric Chavez is willing to return for another year and will probably look to return Jayson Nix. If Nix, Chavez, Dickerson, Nunez and say, Stewart, are on the roster, than the bench is complete having used only a waiver claim on the only player not in pinstripes last year.
If Kuroda and Pettitte return, it’s unlikely the Yankees pursue any starter without an extravagant, under the radar, trade. It won’t be an arm like Dan Haren.
Once Rivera signs, the bullpen shouldn’t be too complicated either. Chamberlain and Aardsma healthy for a full season and Cabral battling Clay Rapada for the second lefty spot would appear to be the extent of change in the late innings.
Guys like Phelps, Pineda, Romine, and fast-moving prospects, Mark Montgomery, Tyler Austin and Mason Williams represent necessary depth options at various points this season and potentially 2014 (Phelps’ in the rotation, even if he starts in the bullpen).
It’s unlikely the Yankees pursue anything beyond a Scott Hairston type utility player or maybe Hunter to replace Ichiro barring a major trade. They will also look to sign a veteran, one year deal at DH as they usually do.
If the price is right, it could be Carlos Pena or someone like Ty Wigginton. Travis Hafner is also an option, though carries injury risk. The Yankees would be wise to see if they can get Pena back, who should be able to do his best Raul Ibanez impression with a short porch in right. They also reserve the right to rotate the designated hitter spot, but would likely rather use it for some extra offense.