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4 Free Agents to Replace Struggling New York Yankees Stars

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIDecember 13, 2014

4 Free Agents to Replace Struggling New York Yankees Stars

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    It's no secret as to why the New York Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in this year's American League Championship Series.

    The Yankees offense was historically atrocious. In the 268 completed postseason series prior to this one, only 19 teams averaged fewer than the 1.5 runs per game scored by the Yankees.

    Also, their .188 team batting average in the entire postseason was the worst ever for a team that played in at least seven postseason games.

    Yes, that's right—the worst.

    It's really unfair to blame individual stars, as the whole offense underperformed.

    Even still, the guys that were supposed to carry the team failed miserably. Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano were all terrible at the plate, leading to one of the most abysmal offensive performances in playoff history.

    Cano is a lock to return, while guys like Rodriguez and Granderson have been linked to trade rumors this season. Swisher, a free agent, may have worn out his welcome in the Bronx.

    These guys aren't the only ones on the hot seat, however. Russell Martin performed well in the postseason...when you take into account his pathetic regular season. His regular-season line alone should lead to his immediate departure this offseason.

    By the time spring training 2013 rolls around, the Yankees may have a vastly different lineup than what we've seen in previous years.

A.J. Pierzynski in Place of Russell Martin

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    Head case or not, A.J. Pierzynski had a great season in 2012 for the Chicago White Sox.

    In 135 games, he posted a line of .278/.326/.501 with 27 home runs and 77 RBI. He also scored a career-high 68 runs.

    There are several reasons why signing Pierzynski would be a great idea.

    For one, he's a left-handed bat. The Yankees lineup may already be lefty loaded, but his natural uppercut swing would translate well to Yankee Stadium. He could potentially approach 30 home runs if he played half of his games in the hitter-friendly park.

    At 36 years old, Pierzynski is approaching the end of his career. Even so, last season was arguably his most productive at the plate.

    A one-year deal with a team option for 2014 would be ideal for general manager Brian Cashman. By 2014, top prospect Gary Sanchez should be ready for a role on the big league club.

    Pierzynski would be a nice placeholder for Sanchez, while also providing a solid bat in the bottom third of the order.

Jeff Keppinger in Place of Alex Rodriguez

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    Something like this, of course, hinges on the Yankees dealing the albatross of a contract that is Alex Rodriguez. Any deal that sends him packing will have to include the Yankees shelling out at least 60 percent of his contract (pure speculation on my part) and bringing back some bad contracts in return.

    I doubt any players of value will be gotten in return, so Cashman will have to look to the free-agent market for a replacement.

    One option that is very intriguing is Jeff Keppinger, the former Tampa Bay Ray.

    Keppinger is coming off of the best season of his career. He hit .325/.367/.439 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 385 at-bats.

    He played 50 games at third base filling in for the injured Evan Longoria, but also provides the versatility to play anywhere in the infield or outfield.

    Keppinger absolutely crushes lefties. Last season, he hit .376/.402/.521 in 117 at-bats against them.

    Keppinger is a cheaper option who wouldn't provide the team with much power, but his constant approach at the plate is something that the Yankees lacked during the playoffs—let alone during certain points in the regular season.

Delmon Young in Place of Nick Swisher

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    Delmon Young may not be the best regular-season performer, but he is a playoff menace to the Yankees. He won the ALCS MVP in the series against the Yankees and is already on his way to setting some Tigers postseason records.

    Partially in an effort to keep him away from the Tigers this offseason, Cashman could make a play at Young this offseason.

    It's crazy to think that he is only 27 years old, so the Yankees could reasonably offer him a three-year deal.

    While his lack of patience at the plate and his somewhat quirky mechanics don't exactly fit into the Yankee philosophy, his production alone is enough to warrant the potential acquisition.

    In the regular season, he posted a line of .267/.296/.411 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI. He walked just 20 times, but Kevin Long should be able to help him with his approach at the plate.

    He's been fantastic in the postseason so far in his young career. He's hit .250/.310/.522 with seven home runs and 14 RBI in just 92 at-bats.

    Throw in his cannon of an arm in right field, and you've got yourself a more than capable replacement for Nick Swisher in right field.

Cody Ross in Place of Curtis Granderson

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    Curtis Granderson may have blasted a team-high 43 home runs this season, but he also struck out a team-high 195 times.

    His .232 average represented a 30-point drop-off from last season, and his .319 on-base percentage represented a 45-point drop-off.

    While his speed gives him the ability to track down some well-hit fly balls, his defensive skills aren't that great. His speed is something that should be utilized by the team as well, but he only stole 10 bases this season.

    It may be difficult to do, but I think it's time to try and trade the Grandyman. The Yankees likely wouldn't receive a starting center fielder in return, so free-agent Cody Ross could be an option.

    He didn't play much center field last season, but he's played 387 games there in his career.

    Ross isn't a flashy player, nor is he a big personality. He's simply a baseball player that gets the job done both at the plate and in the field.

    This season, Ross hit .267/.326/.481 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI. In the outfield, he made just one error and recorded nine outfield assists.

    His postseason numbers are very strong. In the San Francisco Giants' World Series run in 2010, he was a key contributor. He hit .294/.390/.686 with five home runs and 10 RBI that postseason.

Rationale

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    Brian Cashman has a lot of work to do this season. Many Yankee fans are expecting a major roster overhaul, but that's not likely to happen.

    There are too many roadblocks in the way of implementing the changes I've suggested. That being said, Cashman would be wise to consider some of these options.

    The new faces lack the star power of the players leaving New York, but their quiet personas and silent production would combine for more production than the previous players gave the team.

    Even though you'd be losing 43 home runs from Granderson and solid regular-season play from Swisher, the new offense would be much more well balanced and much more apt to hit in the postseason.

    Throw in the fact that each player has a batting average of at least .267, and the offense would see a huge boost. Replacing the .232 average of Granderson and the .211 average of Martin would be invaluable changes.

    In the end, it's likely that none of these moves will happen. It would be too much of a risk to the Yankees organization to replace so much star power with such relatively unknown commodities.

    Why not give it a try, though?

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