6 Players Brian Cashman Must Target to Redeem Yankees' Unimpressive Offseason
The New York Yankees have yet to make a splash this winter. In fact, they've barely made a ripple.
The Bombers have managed to solidify their pitching staff by retaining Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, but they stand to lose Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher and are probably going to be missing Alex Rodriguez until June.
Let's not kid ourselves here. This is not a team that's getting better. This is a team that's getting worse. If the Yankees want to live to see the playoffs in 2013, Brian Cashman needs to do something.
Or several somethings, for that matter.
A few doors have already closed on the Yankees this winter, but they still have holes to fill and there are still plenty of players out there they can acquire to shore up their chances of playing in October in 2013.
Here's a few ideas.
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Willie Bloomquist is baseball's very own Inspector Gadget. He has the tools to handle pretty much any situation and whatever task that may be asked of him.
Short of pitcher and catcher, there's no position Bloomquist can't play. He's played all three outfield spots during his career, as well as all over the infield.
He's considerably more versatile than Kevin Youkilis, whom Bryan Hoch of MLB.com says the Yankees have offered a one-year contract worth $12 million. The plan would be to use him at third base as a stand-in for A-Rod, but Youk would do nothing to account for the fact that the Yankees also need somebody who can spell Derek Jeter on occasion.
Bloomquist could do that. He's coming off a season in which he played almost exclusively at shortstop and third base. His defense at either position wasn't overly strong, but the Arizona Diamondbacks were glad to have him given how uncertain their situations at third and short were for much of the season.
Bloomquist is still under contract with the Diamondbacks for 2013, but it's hard to see how he fits into the club's plans with Chris Johnson at third base and Cliff Pennington and John McDonald also around to play shortstop. It's also possible that the Diamondbacks could trade for a more capable shortstop, which would push Bloomquist further down on their depth chart.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported in July that the Yankees wanted to trade for Bloomquist ahead of the trade deadline. They should try again now, as the top versatile infielders on the free-agent market have been gobbled up and he'd be a heck of a lot easier to acquire than somebody like Chase Headley.
Bloomquist would take care of the Yankees' need for a versatile infielder. As for a versatile pitcher...
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With CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova all in tow, the Yankees' rotation is all set for 2013.
Depth, however, is an issue. Derek Lowe and Freddy Garcia are free agents, and Michael Pineda may not be back until the second half of 2013. The Yankees do have David Phelps and a handful of intriguing young arms, but they could use a veteran who could step in and fill the spot starter/long reliever role formerly occupied by Garcia.
One guy who could fit the bill is Brett Myers. Since 2007, he's one of only two pitchers who have appeared in at least 230 games and made at least 100 starts. The other is C.J. Wilson.
Myers had his best season as a reliever in 2012, making 70 appearances and compiling a 3.31 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. As a full-time starter in 2010 and 2011, however, he compiled a 3.79 ERA and totaled close to 440 innings.
Myers is precisely the kind of Plan B the Yankees need in case Nova bombs as a starter again, as he could serve in the bullpen initially and then step in and be a serviceable innings-eater in the club's rotation.
Granted, it won't necessarily be easy for the Yankees to get Myers if they decide they want him. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune has reported that Myers wants to start in 2013, so he may scoff at the Yankees if they come to him and ask him to be an insurance option for their starting rotation.
But that's something the Yankees could fix with a huge one-year offer. They've already given out a couple, and they're toying with giving one to Kevin Youkilis as well. Perhaps they could make such an offer to Myers as well.
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With Mariano Rivera re-signing for what will surely be his final season in 2013, nobody seems to be all that worried about the Yankees' bullpen.
But people should be. The Yankees are banking on Rivera being his old self again in the ninth inning, but there's a chance their hopes are misplaced given Rivera's age and the major injury he suffered in May. Plus, the cast of characters around him isn't very deep with Rafael Soriano out of the picture.
The Yankees could stand to add an accomplished reliever to the mix to shore up their depth for the later innings, and veteran right-hander Mike Adams should be at the top of their list of options.
Adams comes with a medical red flag due to the surgery he had to relieve his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but he's expected to be fully healthy by spring training. As such, he may be less of an injury risk than Rivera.
Adams may also be just as good as Rivera. He's compiled a 2.06 ERA over 206 appearances in the last three seasons, with a 9.0 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9. It's worth noting that these numbers are slightly skewed by an off season in 2012 in which Adams may have never been 100 percent healthy.
On the Yankees, Adams could join forces with David Robertson to create a very strong bridge to Rivera in the ninth inning. If Rivera were to falter, Adams could step in and handle ninth-inning duties—something that Robertson failed to do in 2012 when he was given a chance after Mo's injury.
Bloomquist, Myers and Adams would take care of the Yankees' less pressing needs. As for who they could go after to take care of their most pressing needs...
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With Nick Swisher all but assured to sign with another club this winter, the Yankees stand to lose a fair amount of power in right field.
Re-signing Ichiro would be an easy way for the Yankees to fill their vacancy in right field, but he won't be able to replace Swisher's pop. Among the options on the free-agent market who could, Cody Ross sticks out as a no-brainer.
The Yankees have noticed him as well, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has reported that the Bombers have given Ross a look. They even requested his medicals earlier this week.
Ross is not without his faults as a hitter. He's not overly patient and he's too pull-happy for his own good. The latter habit won't play as well at a place like Yankee Stadium as it did in Fenway Park in 2012.
Still, a fair expectation for Ross over a full season would be in the neighborhood of 20 home runs. He's had four seasons in which he's played at least 130 games, and he failed to hit as many as 20 homers in only one of them.
Ross' right-handed stick would fit well towards the end of the Yankees' batting order, and his contract demands shouldn't have the club's number-crunchers shaking their heads. The Yankees don't want to spend money on multi-year contracts if they can help it, but Ross is said to be seeking a mere three-year deal worth $25 million.
By comparison, that's roughly half of what Swisher could get on the open market. If all the Yankees are looking for is a 20-homer right fielder, Ross could thus satisfy their wishes at a team-friendly cost.
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Switch-hitting catchers with power don't come around often, and the Cleveland Indians have Carlos Santana locked up through at least 2016 at very team-friendly rates.
So before you say it, they certainly don't have to trade him. If anything, they've indicated with their pursuit of various free agents that they'd rather surround Santana and their other talented hitters with more talent rather than send talent out.
If the Indians fail to bring in talent via free agency this winter, they may abandon their hopes of putting a contender together and move ahead with a full-on rebuild. If so, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera would surely go, and the Indians would at least have to consider offers for Santana.
There aren't many impact players the Yankees can trade for given the amount of development time their top prospects still need, but Santana is a horse of a different color. To get him, the Yankees could base a trade package around top prospect Gary Sanchez, who the Indians could develop to replace Santana behind the plate.
The Yankees also have some quality young arms they could offer the Indians, who desperately need quality young arms.
If the Yankees get Santana, they'd have a defensive liability on their hands. The trade-off would be that they'd have a switch-hitting catcher who has clubbed 45 home runs and compiled a .797 OPS over the last two seasons. He's also still only 26 years old.
Going from Russell Martin to him would be an upgrade.
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Yup, I'm going here. And no, I'm not taking crazy pills.
Neither are the Yankees, apparently. Bob Nightengale of USA Today indicated on Friday that the thought of signing Josh Hamilton has at least crossed their minds:
The #Yankees, but not GM Brian Cashman, quietly running background check on Josh Hamilton, rival GM says— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 7, 2012
Had you asked me a couple weeks ago if the Yankees had any shot of signing Hamilton, my answer would have been an emphatic no. But that was when he was looking for a long-term contract, and circumstances have changed since then.
The market is pushing Hamilton to sign a shorter deal. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has reported that the Texas Rangers were talking to Hamilton about a four-year deal, and he's also reported that the Seattle Mariners have been talking to him about a mere three-year deal.
The Yankees shouldn't be afraid of signing Hamilton if it's only for three or four years. His 40-homer power won't go away that quickly, and they wouldn't have to fear having another A-Rod on their hands down the line.
The biggest question mark would be the dollars, as signing Hamilton could compromise Hal Steinbrenner's desire to get the club's 2014 payroll below the luxury tax threshold. That will be very hard to do if Hamilton is signed for roughly $25 million per year.
But the Yankees could make space for Hamilton right away by trading away Curtis Granderson, and they have $37 million due to come off the books next winter when Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all walk. Phil Hughes is also due to walk, and Robinson Cano may walk too if Scott Boras wants the moon for him (and he will).
As long as the deal would be for four years or less, the Yankees could make this work. And if they do, they'll be putting one of the game's best sluggers in a ballpark that couldn't be more perfect for his swing.
If the Yankees want to shock the world this winter, signing Hamilton is how they should do it.
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