3 Offseason Moves the New York Yankees Will Not Regret Making
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Many would call it slow, but so far this offseason, the New York Yankees have made several moves that the organization will not regret.
Big bats like Josh Hamilton have come and gone.
Zack Greinke and Dan Haren both found homes in the National League.
However, it could be the Yankees who have had the most productive offseason to this point in the winter.
Without spending mounds of cash, New York has been able to retain arguably it's best starting pitcher from a season ago and fill gaping holes at both right field and third base.
GM Brian Cashman vowed to improve the Yankees while still avoiding the impending luxury tax in 2013, and at least so far, he has stayed true to his word.
Players returning from injury like Brett Gardner figure to add depth to a lineup that finished second in runs scored in 2012. In addition to that, veteran leadership in the form of Ichiro Suzuki and Kevin Youkilis should help the Bronx Bombers keep pace in the competitive AL East.
The resigning of Mariano Rivera adds another arm that wasn't available for most of last season, and suddenly the Yankees appear to be in prime position for another title run.
Of course, speculation is easy in December.
And New York will have to prove itself on the field come spring time.
But thus far, any true fan has to be pleased with the organization's offseason moves.
Here are three examples of signings that Yankee fans won't regret.
Hiroki Kuroda: 1 Year, $15 Million
Hiroki Kuroda delivers a pitch during Game 2 of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers
Al Bello/Getty Images
If such a thing is possible in the Big Apple, the New York Yankees quietly locked up Hiroki Kuroda to a 1-year, $15 million contract this past November.
I say quietly for two reasons:
First, because the news didn't generate enormous amounts of media attention. And secondly, because that is exactly how the Japanese right-hander goes about his business—quietly.
For anyone who didn't notice, Kuroda was, for all intents and purposes, the Yankees ace in 2012.
That's not a slight to the obvious No. 1 in New York's staff, CC Sabathia, who missed significant time with an elbow injury. But rather it is praise for a pitcher who arguably could have been the Yankees' most valuable player last season without anyone noticing.
While big names including Andy Pettitte and Sabathia were forced to spend time on the disabled list, Kuroda stepped up and served as New York's horse.
He logged more innings than all but three pitchers in the American League in 2012, while also finishing eighth in ERA and fifth in WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
Silently, Kuroda has made a name for himself around baseball as one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the game.
Questions as to whether or not he could produce in the competitive AL East have been answered, and Hiroki Kuroda stands soundlessly as one of Brian Cashman's better moves.
Ichiro Suzuki: 2 Years, $13 Million
Ichiro shows off his signature batting stance during Game 2 of the 2012 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Months after practically stealing the left-handed veteran from the Seattle Mariners, the New York Yankees filled a gaping hole at right field for the foreseeable future by signing Ichiro to a 2-year, $13 million contract.
The move was one that was much-needed after it was made clear that Nick Swisher wouldn't be a Yankee in 2013.
And it was also one that Brian Cashman will not regret.
Now of course Ichiro is not going to return to his MVP fashion at the age of 39; however, there is reason to believe that another Japanese-born Yankee will experience success in the coming years.
A change of scenery worked wonders for Ichiro in 2012 when Seattle traded him to New York midseason.
Coming to the Bronx with a .261 average, the first ballot Hall-of-Famer raised his average 20 points while wearing pinstripes for just over two months.
A short porch in right field helped produce a spike in power production for Ichiro as well and the two-time batting champion was one of very few who produced for the Bronx Bombers this past postseason (leading Yankees with five RBI).
No, Cashman didn't make the biggest splash and sign Josh Hamilton.
But that's not who the Yankees are anymore—or at least not right now.
New York has stood firm by their claim that they wish to improve the team while also avoiding the impending luxury tax in 2013.
And with moves like the one they made for Ichiro, there is little reason to doubt them.
Kevin Youkilis plays a bouncer at third during a Sept. 25 game against the Cleveland Indians
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
People may not realize it just yet, but the New York Yankees found another solid pickup in the form of a former division rival: Kevin Youkilis.
A day many thought impossible is now here. And at least for the next 12 months, "Youk" and his unique batting stance will be sporting the Yankee pinstripes.
But the news may not be as bad as it seems.
When it was discovered that Alex Rodriguez would require another major hip surgery, New York was left with few options for third base.
Names like Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix became the first options to replace Rodriguez from within; however, most knew that Brian Cashman would likely need to find help via the free agent market.
Luckily, he did.
Instead of sacrificing defense (in the form of Nunez) or offense (Nix is a .214 career hitter), the Yankees found a viable substitute in Kevin Youkilis.
He may not be the same player that was during MVP contention seasons in 2008 and 2009, but for $12 million, he can certainly fill a need at third base at the age of 33.
Four years younger than Rodriguez, Youkilis finished with nearly identical numbers to the Yankees third baseman in 2012.
He provides solid defense, a veteran bat in a powerful lineup, and unlike his counterpart, Youk won't be needing a new hip.
Questions about A-Rod's future with the Yankees are tossed around almost thoughtlessly at this point thanks to a significant drop off in production the last couple seasons.
But will Kevin Youkilis help make those uncertainties an afterthought in New York?
We will have to wait and see.