New York Yankees' Biggest Needs Heading into Free Agency
As the sun set on the Bronx Bombers’ season last week, the free agency rumors were already spreading.
The Yankees have a long list of players that will be free agents including: Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez, Derek Lowe, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones and Freddy Garcia.
Also, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson both have club options, and Rafael Soriano has a player option for this season.
To say the least, there will be changes in New York come spring training.
With the Yankees already picking up Granderson’s option for next year, it will be hard to believe they don’t do the same for Cano.
But beyond picking up their options, the Yankees have a lot of things to do heading into free agency.
Re-Sign Core Four Members at a Low Cost
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It would be very surprising if both Rivera and Pettitte don’t return next season, and the Yankees will need them.
Brian Cashman is going to need to find a way to get these two members of the Core Four back, and keep their price tags low.
The agent for closer Rafael Soriano has hinted that Soriano will most likely opt out of his contract, making Rivera’s return even more important (via MLB Trade Rumors).
I don’t imagine money will be a major issue with these guys, though; they have made a nice living with long careers.
This may be Cashman’s easiest task of the winter, but with that being said, it is a very important one.
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In one of the more surprising moves of the trade deadline, Suzuki’s move to New York couldn’t have come at a better time.
The aging Japanese star was in dire need of new scenery, and that is what the Yankees provided him with.
By the playoffs, Suzuki was one of the Bombers’ most consistent players, and when Derek Jeter went down Suzuki was one of the only players on the team that could hit.
Although he is not going to play at the level he did during his prime in Seattle, the Yankees need to re-sign Suzuki.
He brings a solid bat and patience at the plate, not to mention he is still a good fielder.
Bring Back Russell Martin
For all the struggles Martin had at the plate this year, he has been one of the most important players in New York.
He was able to help guide a pitching staff marred with injuries and inconsistency through most of the season, all while playing solid defense.
It is well known that catcher is an unforgiving position that takes a toll on the body throughout the year.
But Martin proved this year that he’s a warrior, playing in 133 of the 162 games this season.
In the playoffs, Martin fared better than some players on the Yankees roster with five hits in 31 at-bats.
The free-agent market for catchers this season isn’t exactly strong, and with Martin not having a spectacular year, his price tag shouldn’t be too high.
This is another deal that needs to be done.
Try for Upton
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With Nick Swisher’s contract ending this season, MLB Trade Rumors projects that the outfielder is looking for a lot more money than the Yankees plan on offering.
The reality is that Swisher is most likely not going to be back next year, and that means there will be a hole in the right field spot.
With Brett Gardner getting healthy and Granderson returning, that leaves the door open for BJ Upton.
Upton is a young, solid hitting outfielder that could help ease the loss of Swisher. Even if the Yankees resign Suzuki, a rotation in the outfield couldn’t hurt, especially in the case of an injury.
But the fact remains that the New York front office is looking to keep cutting the payroll.
The Yankees are going to need a right fielder, and Upton would be a great fit there.
It won’t hurt for the Yankees to pursue Upton in free agency, but the price will need to be right to see him in pinstripes.
Find Another Hiroki Kuroda
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Over the past two seasons, the Yankees seemed to have an innate ability to find veteran starters that step up.
Last year it was Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia surprising everyone with their return to forms, and this year Kuroda was arguably New York’s best starter.
Cashman will have to pull another veteran out of that magic hat of his.
It doesn’t look like Michael Pineda will be having much of an impact next year, nor will top prospect Manny Banuelos (via ESPN New York).
That leaves the Yankees with CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps. Hughes has been very inconsistent, Nova successfully pitched himself out of the playoff rotation, and Phelps has only started in 11 games this year.
There are no predictions here on who this dark horse veteran starter might be, but the Yankees will need to find an experienced pitcher to step into the rotation and perform.