Cashman is faced with major personnel decisions this off-season
By now we’re all aware Major League Baseball’s biggest wallet has a budget. Hal Steinbrenner has never wavered from a $189 million dollar budget that fans, media, critics and everyone except the Yankees’ Front Office seems skeptical of actually happening.
Nevertheless, New York has been tight on spending since they were the first of numerous MLB spending sprees back in the winter heading into 2009. Since the Yankees went wild on contracts to Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, long-term commitments and big time Free Agents appear to be a thing of the past for the Bronx Bombers.
Since that winter, the Red Sox, Marlins, Angels and now Dodgers have tried similar strategies and none have achieved any success.
So what can the Yankees do in keeping with this new-found lack of financial freedom? General Manager Brian Cashman is faced with major personnel decisions this off-season
Here’s five things that need to happen for the Yankees save money by the end of 2013 and beyond.
1. Re-sign Ichiro
Nick Swisher is all but an after thought. With Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano‘s contracts expiring, there is a 0% chance the Yankees will re-sign all three guys to extended deals. After an abysmal postseason for all three players, Swisher would appear to be the first man out the door.
One way of helping an outfield transition would be signing a veteran to a short-term deal. Ichiro Suzuki hit .322 as a Yankee in 2012 and even provided a few hits in the postseason.
Might the Yankees be able to get him to sign a one year deal, two years max? It’s possible and if it can happen, Ichiro will be a natural replacement at his natural position in right field and still leave the payroll free for 2014, 2015 at the latest.
2. Farm Relief
The best way to save money in the Major Leagues is having players play for the MLB minimum. The best way to do that is developing from within. In 2005, the Yankees might as well have not had a farm system.
In 2012, New York had numerous promising young players.
After a very encouraging 2011 campaign featuring the emergence of: Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Dante Bichette Jr. among others, 2012 was a colossal disappointment.
Only David Phelps emerged in 2012 to help the team and only Mitchell and Warren would appear to be options to assist presently for 2013.
However, by the end of next year guys like: Pineda, Romine and Banuelos could be healthy and poised to take the next step and guys like: Tyler Austin, Mason Williams and Gary Sanchez might be primed to be long-term solutions at the big league level by then.
With Russell Martin, Granderson, Ichiro, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda all short-term solutions, having outfield, starting pitching and catching prospects develop would be key for relieving payroll. Of course, Eduardo Nunez playing a better defense and Brett Gardner staying healthy will only help this cause and the Yankees can turn to players like Chris Dickerson, Nunez and Melky Mesa to play bit roles next season.
3. Build Around Cano
Just like there is no chance of Granderson, Cano and Swisher signing long-term deals, there’s also very little chance of none of the three signing a long-term deal with the Yankees. It’s entirely possible Swisher is not here, and it’s even likely
Granderson will either be traded for a top prospect or will be let go for a draft pick, but it would be far-fetched to believe New York wouldn’t build its offense around Cano, who just turned 30 years old.
Cano is said to be seeking a 10 year contract and has Scott Boras as an agent, so New York is certainly going to have to open the wallet for the second baseman.
However, by cutting 20 million in salary from Granderson and Swisher alone, signing Cano means having a middle-of-the-order bat with middle-of-the-order numbers for at least another five years.
If the Yankees can get Cano for something more like 6-8 years and 150-175 million dollars, it’s a worthy deal.
4. Let the Veterans Retire
It’s an interesting contrast to be lobbying for players like: Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro to be re-signed and also believe veterans need to be let go when it’s their time, but that’s exactly how the Yankees should approach the next two off-seasons. The aforementioned three veterans can all be had for under 30 million dollars in 2013.
Add in Mariano Rivera and the Yankees could have four guys who would be effective for a year and who may not require a second year on their contracts. Of course, Kuroda and Ichiro can go either way.
Regardless, the Yankees would be wise to sign those four guys in 2013 and try to have none of them on the payroll in 2014. That could be a 40 million dollar swing and make the Yankees strong next year as they stick to budgetary constraints.
5. Detemine the Fate of Expiring Contracts
The following members of the Yankees have contracts past 2014: Teixeira, Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.
Cashman said he would listen to offers for A-Rod this winter. Rodriguez is owed $114 million over the course of five years and he has a no-trade clause. Don’t expect the list of potential suitors to be long.
For those counting, that’s only three roster spots and over 70 million dollars in dedicated money. Derek Jeter has a buyout option in 2014. Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan and Gardner will be eligible for Free Agency.
Pineda, Ivan Nova and Nunez will still be in the arbitration stages. Everyone else is liable to be an after thought.
The Yankees need to figure out their approach to Derek Jeter and his next contract, whether they can or would want to move one of their big three contracts, and more or less what the game plan is for Hughes, Nova and most of the bullpen.
It would be wise to extend Robertson and either extend Hughes and Gardner or trade them while they still have value (this will likely be decided in 2013).
It’s probable Jeter will get another deal after this one while he chases the hits record and continues to play on his terms, hopefully to a smaller contract and at a different position.