New York Yankees: The Complete Preview and Guide to the Bombers Offseason Plan
The Yankees were swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series and headed home with a lot of question marks surrounding 2013.
Despite winning the American League East and owning the A.L.'s best record in 2012, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have a lot of game-planning for the next season ahead of them.
What issues do the Yankees need to focus on?
What free agents do the Yankees need to re-sign or bring in?
What trades could the Bombers look into for 2013.
I will cover all of that in this complete guide and preview to the New York Yankees offseason plan.
Lets take a look at what Cashman and Girardi need to get done before pitchers and catchers report in February.
Figure out What to Do with Alex Rodriguez Quickly
The Yankees as a whole struggled to hit in October.
However, nobody took more of the blame than Alex Rodriguez did, as he hit .120 (3-for-25) in the 2012 postseason.
His .111 (1-for-9) against the Tigers prompted Joe Girardi to bench A-Rod for Games 3 and 4 of the ALCS, which is when the trade rumors started to take off.
Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported that while Brian Cashman will be entertaining offers, he feels that trading A-Rod right now looks unrealistic.
Cashman needs to do one of two things.
1. Trade A-Rod relatively soon or 2. End all trade rumors and keep him off the market.
This A-Rod thing does not need to be a distraction and a circus, although quite frankly, with anything involving A-Rod, it's going to turn into just that.
I, like many other fans, would like to see A-Rod traded out of New York. But if Cashman has no intentions of doing it, just come out and say you aren't trading him.
Get CC Sabathia's Elbow Situation Resolved Now
Before Game 4 of the ALCS against the Tigers, CC Sabathia was pitching like a dominant ace for the Yankees, posting a 2-0 record and won a decisive Game 5 in the ALCS against the Orioles.
However, in the ALCS, Sabathia struggled, giving up six runs and 11 hits in 3.2 innings against Detroit and took the loss in the game that ended the Yankees season.
Peter Botte of the New York Daily News reported this past week that Sabathia will travel to see world renown sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews to get his elbow checked out.
According to Botte, the Yankees don't think there's any ligament damage in Sabathia's elbow, but there might be a bone spur that could need to be removed.
If that is the case, Sabathia needs to have this taken care of ASAP and not let it linger into 2013.
Since coming to the Bronx in 2009, Sabathia is 74-29 with a 3.22 ERA and has been so good for the Yankees in his first four years with the team.
The Yankees have another five years and $119 million guaranteed to him, so they need their ace healthy and without any major injury going forward.
Re-Sign Andy Pettitte
Andy Pettitte shocked the entire baseball world back in March when he came out of retirement to pitch for the Yankees in 2012.
After a year away from baseball, Pettitte was pitching sensationally until he took a liner off his ankle against the Cleveland Indians back in June, which put him on the sideline for nearly three months with a fractured ankle.
He returned in late September and finished with a 5-4 record with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. In the postseason, Pettitte went 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA.
Pettitte could have won both of his postseason starts if he had gotten a shred of run support from his team. Despite that, Pettitte still pitched very well for the Yankees.
Now, Pettitte will figure out if he wants to pitch again in 2013 and hopes to have a decision within the next month, according to Jeff Bradley and Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger.
My gut feeling is that Pettitte is coming back because he didn't get a chance to pitch a full season. Plus, given the fact that he's such a fierce competitor, he'll want one more crack at a sixth World Series.
Once he makes his decision, the Yankees need to sign him quickly. I think a one-year, $11 million deal should be enough to get it done.
Figure out Mariano Rivera's Status for 2013
Heading into the 2012 season, most of us thought it would be the final rodeo for the greatest closer in baseball history.
Rivera was the all-time saves leader with 608 and looking to win one more championship in the final year of his contract, but back in May, his future was greatly altered.
While shagging fly balls at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Rivera tore his ACL on the skirts of the outfield which required surgery and forced the 42-year old out for the remainder of the season.
Rafael Soriano pitched well in Rivera's place, but Soriano is likely to opt out of his contract, which means the Yankees need to figure out their closer role quickly.
Rivera has stated that he wants to pitch in 2013 and if he still feels that way, then the Yankees need to make sure of it and re-sign him quickly.
Just like with Andy Pettitte, my gut feeling is that Rivera is coming back for one more year.
Re-Sign Hiroki Kuroda
Back in January, the Yankees made two big moves to the pitching staff.
The first one was trading Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda, which has yet to work out considering Pineda missed the entire 2012 season with a shoulder injury and is not expected to be in the 2013 plans.
The other was signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal, which turned out to be a brilliant move.
Kuroda went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts and tossed 219.2 innings, which were really good numbers considering Kuroda was considered a "National League only pitcher," yet he thrived in the American League.
If Kuroda wants to come back to New York, he's earned a spot in the rotation, and Brian Cashman may even have to give him a raise from the $10 million he got in 2012.
What will be interesting to see is if Kuroda gets any multi-year offers from any other teams.
If I am Cashman, a two-year, $27 million offer for Kuroda would be a good starting point on a deal.
Gauge Ichiro Suzuki's Future Plans
Before the trade deadline in July, the Yankees pulled off a shocker of a deal with the Mariners, landing long-time outfielder Ichiro Suzuki for two minor leaguers.
In 67 games with the Yankees, Ichiro hit .322 while stealing 14 bases and playing all three outfield positions.
In the postseason, Ichiro was one of the few Yankees that actually hit in October, as he hit .282 (11-for-39) overall. In the ALCS, he hit .353 (6-for-17), very good numbers for an offense that tanked against the Tigers.
Now a a free agent, Ichiro has a decision to make.
He could come back to the Yankees, likely on a one-year deal. Or, he could look to play elsewhere and try to get a multi-year deal based off how well he performed in the second half with the Yankees.
He's not worth $17 million per season, but he could get anywhere from $7-9 million from a team looking for offense.
I think if Ichiro gets more money or more years from another team, the Yankees will let him walk.
Right Field Options
Nick Swisher is likely all but gone as a New York Yankee, and most fans are glad.
If Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki are both gone, then Brian Cashman has to figure out who is manning right field in 2013.
Before he got busted for PED's, Melky Cabrera could have been a possibility, but I highly doubt the Yankees want to bring him back given how much negativity he would bring.
They could go after Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton, but I think they'll get much bigger offers on the free agent market to stay a center fielder.
One name I think the Yankees could look into is Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. He's 37 now, but he's still a good fielder and can provide some pop in the Yankees lineup.
While he did hit .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBI for the Angels in 2012, it's no guarantee that he'll be back for them in 2013, especially if they want to lock up Zack Greinke long-term.
My first option for right field is Hunter, but only if Ichiro isn't coming back.
Figure out If Curtis Granderson Is the Long-Term Center Fielder
The Yankees recently announced they will pick up the 2013 option on center fielder Curtis Granderson for $13 million.
He'll be a free agent after the season and Brian Cashman has to figure out if he wants to keep him or trade him in the winter.
After hitting .232 with 195 strikeouts in the regular season and .100 with 16 strikeouts in the postseason, the Yankees are concerned.
Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported that the Yankees are sending Granderson to an eye specialist to check and see if he needs any special help with his eyes.
If he does, it could explain a big reason why he struck out so much in the regular season and looked absolutely lost in the playoffs.
Despite the strikeouts, he still had the most home runs for the Yankees for a second straight season, hitting 43 in 2012.
If Cashman doesn't see Granderson in his plans, then he should trade him. If not, he should see if the eye sight was the problem, then make a decision from there.
Do They Bring Back Russell Martin?
Replacing a Yankee legend like Jorge Posada was no easy task, but Russell Martin was very durable behind the plate.
Despite hitting just .211, Martin hit 21 home runs for the Yankees and really came on strong in September for the Bombers, which is a big reason why he got his average over the .200 mark.
The 20 home runs is a plus in the offense, but Martin is so valuable because of how he manages a pitching staff along with his defense behind the plate.
What might have hurt Martin's value is his poor October for the Yankees, hitting .161 (5-for-31) with one home run.
Despite the poor numbers in October and the low batting average in the regular season, Martin is one of the top catchers on the market and the Yankees could be looking to bring him back for a few more seasons.
They could look to other options like Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski, but I see them going elsewhere.
I think Martin comes back to the Yankees for a three year, $20 million deal.
Raul Ibanez Should Be Brought Back
When you think of a word to describe Raul Ibanez's 2012 season, clutch comes to mind.
Ibanez hit 19 home runs for the Yankees in the regular season, most of them came for the Bombers in the sixth inning or later.
Ibanez really made a name for himself hitting huge home runs in the postseason.
Against the Orioles in Game 3, Ibanez hit a game-tying, solo home run off Baltimore closer Jim Johnson in the bottom of the ninth inning that made the score 2-2.
Later on in the bottom of the 12th inning, Ibanez hit the game-winning home run off Brian Matusz and the Yankees won Game 3 by a score of 3-2.
In Game 1 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, Ibanez hit a game-tying, two run home run off Detroit closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth inning that made the score 4-4.
Without Ibanez, there was a good chance the Yankees didn't get past the Orioles.
And for all the great things he did for the team, the Yankees should try to bring Ibanez back and give him more than the $1.1 million they paid him in 2012.
I think at least a $5.5 million offer would be a fair offer to make Ibanez, but the only question is, how many other teams will be interested in him as well.
Potential Trade Options?
The Yankees always look to make trades that can help their team.
The Yankees in recent time have dealt for players like Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and Michael Pineda in hopes of making the team better.
Swisher and Granderson have helped the team, while Pineda has not.
With the rotation having question marks, the Yankees could call up the Phillies and see if Cliff Lee is on the market again, although his contract is a large one over the next two years.
Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton's name has come up in a few trade idea stories, similar to the one that Bleacher Report's Lead Writer Ian Casselberry wrote about this week.
Then there is another possibility for the catcher position; one that Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Joel Reuter wrote about; Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.
Mauer is due another six years and $138 million, a contract I'm sure Minnesota would love to move off their payroll going forward, considering they put Mauer on waivers during the summer.
If the Yankees don't bring Martin back as the catcher and want to look at ideas for the catcher spot, Mauer is an interesting one, although a very expensive one.
Although, according to Reuter's story, adding Mauer over Josh Hamilton in free agency would be a better move for the Yankees given Hamilton's baggage, injuries and age.
If the Yankees could get Mauer, it would be a nice move for the offense, adding a hitter instead of a slugger like Hamilton.
As far as current players go, we've talked about Granderson and A-Rod being potential trade targets, but if I had to pick two potential candidates who could get dealt this winter, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes could end up being shipped out.
Both pitchers are still young with a lot of value to a team who could use them to re-tool their starting rotation.
But that's just me guessing there.
Heading into the winter, the Yankees have a lot of planning to figure out before the start of 2013, and because of the early elimination by the Tigers, Brian Cashman gets to start planning it now.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.