New York Yankees: 4 Moves That Could Reshape the Yanks Next Year
To this point, the 2012 MLB season has been a year of ups and downs for the Yankees. After emerging as one of baseball's best over the summer, New York has seen a 10-game division lead evaporate over recent months, creating suspense in the standings and chaos in the city that never sleeps.
Such struggles may have sparked midseason changes during the George Steinbrenner era; however, a patient approach from Hank and Hal appears to be the current stance in the Bronx.
Failure to make or advance in the playoffs will certainly trigger negative reaction for the team with baseball's highest payroll. But after ownership vowed to get under the $189 million luxury tax during this upcoming offseason, the 2013 Bronx Bombers may have a different look to them.
Of course, nothing is certain just yet. We are talking about the Yankees after all.
2008 marked the lone season over the past 17 years in which New York failed to qualify for postseason play. Following failure, the Yanks didn't exactly shy away from the checkbook.
A $432.5 million commitment to free-agent contracts was the response to the third-place finish in '08. And it paid off when the Yankees claimed World Series title No. 27 the next season.
So for a team famous for spending, in a sport where salary caps don't exist, the options are limitless.
Here are a few moves that could shake up the Yankees roster in 2013.
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With a half-game lead in the AL East and 16 games remaining, any sort of knee-jerk reaction may be a bit premature.
But for one of the most glorified franchises in all of sports, success isn't rewarded—it's expected.
And after the Yankees surrendered a seemingly insurmountable summer lead, nobody's job is safe.
Many believe that such a collapse in the standings would have already cost Joe Girardi his job during the George Steinbrenner reign. An owner famous for midseason managerial changes, Steinbrenner threw contracts and resumes out the window when it came to decision time.
But that was then, and this is now.
And under New York's current ownership, the former Yankee catcher isn't going anywhere just yet.
Of course that may change if the Bronx Bombers fail to qualify for postseason baseball for just the second time in 17 years. Heck, another early exit in October could trigger change as well.
Available names like Lou Pinella and Terry Francona offer intriguing possibilities as pinstripe potentials. But with Girardi under contract through next season, such moves still seem unlikely.
Failure to Retain Nick Swisher
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Nick Swisher quickly became a fan-favorite in New York after being traded to the Yankees in 2008. However, a subpar season in 2012 has made the organization's decision about re-signing the outfielder tough.
Consistent production and durability are both factors that will help Swisher in negotiating a multi-year deal with the bombers. But while the Yanks try to reduce payroll again in 2013, don't be surprised if they go another route in right field.
His .255 batting average and 20 home runs this season both fall shy of his typical numbers. And with ridiculous talks of 12-figure contracts being thrown around, it may be in New York's best interest to stay away from the energetic switch-hitter.
Baseball insider Jon Heyman of CBSSports has said that Swisher may use Jayson Werth's $126 million deal as leverage in contract talks this offseason.
Such a number figures to be at least double or triple his estimated value, and outrageous demands may force the two sides to part ways after 2012.
Postseason production is another factor that hurts Swisher's stock. A career .169 average in the playoffs certainly won't help the 31-year-old earn the massive deal he appears to be seeking.
But any way you look at it, Nick Swisher's services will be sought for the 2013 season. Failure to sign with New York could hurt his chances at a second ring; however, the Yankees may be unable to match the long-term deals other clubs have to offer.
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Ever since BJ Upton broke into the league in 2004, folks around baseball have speculated that the Rays would be unable to re-sign the immensely talented center fielder once his contract expired.
Well, that time is coming in Tampa.
And though Upton's numbers have dropped dramatically since he hit .300 as a 22-year-old in 2007, the versatile right-hander figures to seek a deal larger than what the Rays will offer.
Frustration has been a theme for fans of the 28-year-old Norfolk, VA product. After showing promising signs of a five-tool superstar in his first few seasons, Upton has failed to reach his full potential.
But that doesn't mean he won't be an attractive target on the free-agent market.
A combination of power and speed is complemented by one of the league's strongest outfield arms, and an average of 41 stolen bases over the last four seasons would make Upton a true threat at the top of any lineup across baseball.
The Yankees are hoping that Brett Gardner will return to form next year after injuries have sidelined the speedy outfielder for most of 2012. But connections to New York have been made according to Blaine Blontz of MLB Daily Dish, and a failure to resign Nick Swisher may lead to Upton in pinstripes in 2013.
Other potential OF Targets: Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino, Torii Hunter
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Starting pitching figures to be the primary area of concern for New York entering the offseason. A 4.10 ERA from this year's rotation slots the Yankees 15th out of 30 teams in MLB.
Injuries have been an issue for the Bronx Bombers in 2012. Michael Pineda missed the entire season after being acquired in a blockbuster trade last summer, and both C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have spent significant time on the DL.
But inconsistency among New York's back-end starters has been troubling at times for a team that relies heavily on the long ball for offensive production. Mixed results from guys like Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have made predicting the 2013 starting five nearly impossible.
Former Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy could be a potential target for the Yankees once the 2012 season comes to a close. The four-time All-Star isn't expected to re-sign with Chicago following his bounce-back year in a White Sox uniform, and at just 31 years old, a multi-year deal could be warranted.
Of course Peavy will be on the short list of many teams seeking starting pitching help this offseason. Thanks to an impressive track record and 3.11 ERA in 2012, the 2007 triple-crown winner should receive a contract that front-end starters deserve.
The Yankees may have to go over budget if they want to acquire Peavy's services for 2013. But a rotation of Sabathia, Kuroda (pending), Pettitte (pending), Pineda and Peavy could instantly make New York a favorite in the American League.
Other potential SP targets: Kyle Lohse, Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster