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Buckle your seat belts, because it's going to be a wild ride this winter as the Yankees try to fill several holes on their roster. Even if they land the biggest fish and re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano (pictured) to one of the biggest contracts in free agency, they'll still need to fill multiple holes in the rotation, bullpen and very likely at shortstop, third base and in the outfield.
If you thought general manager Brian Cashman made a lot out of a little in 2013, patching up several holes created by injuries on a limited budget, he would perform nothing short of a miracle if he can revamp the roster and get his team back in the playoffs in 2014.
Cashman may have more money to work with this offseason, especially if Alex Rodriguez's suspension is upheld, but rebuilding an entire pitching staff and replacing several stars in the lineup is a fairly uncommon occurrence in baseball. The Yankees might even be better off if Cano signs elsewhere so they can spread their money around.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP: The decline of CC Sabathia (4.78 ERA in 32 starts) and the retirement of Andy Pettitte could arguably make the re-signing of 38-year-old Hiroki Kuroda (3.31 ERA, 59 percent quality start rate in 32 starts) an even bigger priority than re-signing Cano—at least when it comes to 2014. While the loss of Cano would be felt over the next several seasons, Kuroda's exit could result in a disastrous 2014 season.
Joe Nathan, RP: Replacing legendary closer Mariano Rivera, who is retiring, won't be easy. David Robertson couldn't hold onto the job in 2012 when Rivera went down with a knee injury, so it would be premature to think they'll give him the job now. Replacing Rivera with the veteran Nathan, who has been one of the best closers in the game over the past decade, might be the closest to a seamless transition as they can get. The soon-to-be 39-year-old is likely to void his 2014 club option, which his contract allows him to do.
Robinson Cano, 2B: If reports are correct that Cano is seeking a 10-year, $305 million deal, as was reported by ESPN.com's Buster Olney, it's almost impossible to think the Yankees would saddle themselves with another contract that would last well past the player's prime. But because that would be the case for any team in the league, chances are that the price will come down and into a range where the Yankees would feel more comfortable.
David Freese, 3B: The handful of teams seeking help at the hot corner are likely to turn to the trade market before using the weak free-agent market as a fallback plan. Players like Chase Headley and Freese could be expendable because their teams have solid replacements in-house, not to mention their value is higher than normal because of the limited options. In Freese's case, the Cardinals could hand the starting second base job to Kolten Wong and shift Matt Carpenter to third base.
Marlon Byrd, OF: Unless the Yankees are comfortable starting Alfonso Soriano in left field once again, they could be on the lookout for an affordable corner outfielder. Byrd's price has skyrocketed after a terrific season (.847 OPS, 24 HR), but the 36-year-old won't command a deal greater than two years and $14-$16 million considering he was out of baseball last season because of his dismal performance on the field, and later because of a PED suspension, and appeared to be finished as a baseball player.