There are some who should stay, of course, particularly if the price is right. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has said he would like to come back to the Bronx and should be allowed to, but for no more than one or two years.
Closer Mariano Rivera will be back if he decides it’s not yet time to retire. Rivera will ultimately drive this decision because the blow back from letting go the greatest relief pitcher the game has ever known would be too severe.
Similarly, pitcher Andy Pettitte may decide that an injury-marred 2012 season is not the way he wants to head into his second retirement. The Yankees think he’s going to want to come back, according to a report on CBSSports.com a couple of weeks ago. The price has to be right because the guy has made only 33 starts in the last three seasons.
Catcher Russell Martin had a horrible season offensively, hitting a career-low .211. But given the available alternatives, for a bargain price Martin might be the best option…at least until youngster Gary Sanchez is ready to make the leap to the majors.
Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees’ best starting pitcher for large chunks of 2012. He was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA. He’ll be 38 next season but should be offered a one-year deal to return.
But here are five Yankees that won’t be back:
Derek Lowe came to the Yankees in August after the Cleveland Indians released him. For Cleveland, Lowe was awful. He was just 8-10 in 21 starts with a 5.52 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. He walked more guys than he struck out in 119 innings (45-41).
Lowe will be 40 next June 1 and pitched well in relief for the Yankees down the stretch. In 17 appearances over 23.2 innings, Lowe had a 3.04 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with six walks and 14 strikeouts.
He could be a valuable piece in the bullpen. However, he has said he wants to start again in 2013, and New York doesn’t have a rotation spot available.
Andruw Jones struggled offensively in 2012. He finished the year with a triple-slash line of .197/.294/.408 with 14 homers and 34 RBI in 233 at-bats.
However, he absolutely vanished in the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, Jones’ numbers plummeted to .142/.256/.255 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 106 at-bats. He played so poorly over the final three months of the season that he was left off the Yankees’ postseason roster.
In fact, he played so badly in the second half that Jones agreed with the decision.
Jones will be 36 next April, but if it feels he’s older than that, it’s in part because he made it to the majors at 19. But he hasn’t hit better than .250 for a season since 2006 and his defensive range is not even a shadow of his former self. Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1998 to 2007, but that guy is gone.
There are younger, better options than Jones to be the spare outfielder/right-handed DH option.
Nick Swisher had another solid regular season for the Yankees in 2012. In 148 games in right field and first base, Swisher hit .272/.364/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI.
In his four years in New York, Swisher was very consistent. He hit between 23 and 29 home runs each season and drove in between 82 and 93 every year. As a Yankee from 2009 to 2012, Swisher hit .268/.367/.483 in 598 games.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, he was also very consistent in the postseason—consistently bad. His October batting averages the last four years read like something out of a horror tale: .128 in 2009, .176 in 2010, .211 in 2011, .184 in 2012. For his career, his .169 batting average is the lowest in postseason history for any player with more than 50 at-bats.
Swisher will be 32 later this month. The problem is CBSSports.com reported in August that Swisher could be eyeing a free-agent bonanza similar to that given to Jayson Werth by the Washington Nationals in 2010. That deal was $126 million over seven years.
There’s no way the Yankees commit anywhere near that to keep Swisher, particularly given his postseason struggles.
Freddy Garcia, the one-time Seattle Mariner ace, pitched his way out of the starting rotation in 2012. In 30 appearances overall, he was 7-6 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. As a starter, he was worse: 5-6 with a 5.93 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.
Garcia turned 36 just after the regular season ended and should find a roster spot somewhere in 2013. Just not with the Yankees.
Garcia worked in relief at the end of the season but, like Lowe, would like an opportunity to return to a starting role next year.
It’s almost difficult to say Pedro Feliciano won’t be “back in pinstripes” in 2013 when he really was never in them in the first place. But, as the photo indicates, he at least was healthy enough to dress out for media day, so he had that going for him.
After the 2010 season, the left-handed reliever signed a two-year deal with the Yankees that included a club option for a third year.
But he missed both the 2011 and 2012 seasons with a shoulder injury that required surgery. There was some talk Feliciano might be activated after the Sept. 1 roster expansion this season, but that never happened.
The final numbers on Feliciano as a Yankee are at least easy to tally: Zero appearances, zero days on the active roster, $8 million in salary.