The New York Yankees' current roster has both young and aging players on one-year deals who could either retire or fly the coop after the 2013 season, so the Bombers should be players in the 2014 free-agent class.
Among some of the more notable Yanks who could leave after 2013 are Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes and even the great Derek Jeter.
Granted, nothing is certain at this point in each of these respective player's careers, but the potential departure of any of them could leave the Yanks with a huge hole in their lineup and/or rotation.
Let's take a look at some of the top free agents the Bombers could be gunning for in 2014.
Shields was traded to the Kansas City Royals during the offseason, but before that he was a stellar pitcher for the Yanks' American League East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays.
For the Rays, Shields won 15 games or more in each of the past two seasons, and posted an ERA no worse than 3.52 in the toughest division in Major League Baseball. That type of success in the AL East will no doubt be something that catches the Bombers' eye next offseason.
If the Yanks were to sign Shields, he would start his first year in pinstripes at the age of 32. While that isn't an ideal age for a pitcher to start a contract, Shields should be able to perform up to standards as long as it doesn't take a century-long deal to land him.
A five-year deal would take Shields to the age of 36, so maybe even a sixth year could be a viable option if the Yanks need to up the ante. Whatever the case may be, Shields is a proven commodity in the majors—especially in the AL East—and that will make him a top target for New York.
Now on to a cheaper option for the Yanks.
Yes, I know the history of Johan Santana's arm troubles, but the 33-year-old is still an effective pitcher when he can stay on the mound. This is exactly the type of veteran signing the Bombers have become famous for over the past decade.
Santana won't cost much at this stage in his career (he doesn't need the money, either) and could be viewed as a band-aid should the Bombers need a filler in their rotation. There remains a chance that Santana will break down again, but without costing a lot of dough, he's a little risk, high reward-type signing.
Santana has called New York home for the past five seasons, so he'd likely be comfortable in the pinstripes as it would allow him to remain in the same location. Furthermore, he won't need to be a major player in the Yanks' rotation, so that would further ease the pressure on him.
Should the Yanks be unhappy with their catcher options after they experiment in 2013, McCann could be the answer.
McCann is a solid offensive catcher having notched at least 20 homers and 67 RBI or more in each of the last five seasons, and he's hit for a solid average during his career, although 2012 didn't follow that trend.
Defensively, McCann isn't elite by any stretch, but he can certainly hold his own behind the plate.
The Braves backstop has been dealing with shoulder issues during the offseason, but he should be healthy right around the time the season starts.
If he's available and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to sign him, this is a perfect fit for the Yanks.
If Alex Rodriguez continues to deal with injury problems and Kevin Youkilis doesn't re-sign, the Yanks will be looking for an infielder to fill the void.
Young is perfect for what New York would need as he can play multiple positions in the field and can also handle the bat pretty well.
The Phillies infielder is a career .301 hitter and could be an asset in any spot in the Yanks' order. Furthermore, Young will be 37 when the Yanks have an opportunity to sign him, so it likely won't cost much and take a long-term deal to bring him in.
There's a chance Cano leaves, also, which could make finding an infielder that much more important. If that ends up being the case, Young could be the answer for the short term as the Yanks look for a more long-term solution.
Beltran is another one of those veteran signings that could be a short-term solution for New York. If and when Granderson moves on, Beltran could be a candidate to be signed for a one-year deal that won't cost a crazy amount of money.
As far as defense is concerned, Beltran can still roam the outfield effectively and has experience playing both right and center field, although he'd likely be in right for the Yanks. If that's the case, the Yanks could slide Ichiro to left field.
Beltran is still a solid hitter who can produce at least 20-25 homers and maybe more in Yankee stadium. On top of that, the 35-year-old can still produce runs and will take advantage of the AL as a part-time designated hitter.
This might not be a permanent fix for the Yanks, but Beltran is one heck of a band-aid if that's what the Bombers end up needing.