The New York Yankees will be entering into the most important offseason in recent team history.
The Yankees have 27 players whose contracts ended in 2013, according to Spotrac.
Many of those players either played a significant role on the team this past season or had a salary that indicated they should have. The team should have a fair amount of money to play with this offseason and possibly even more with the recent comments from Brian Cashman, as he stated that the $189 million cap is not a mandate but more of a goal.
There is also the chance that Alex Rodriguez loses his hearing and misses all of next season, saving the Yankees another $25 million.
Cashman has a plethora of holes to fill and this will be his most important offseason. Handing out big contracts that go awry will almost certainly cost him his job at season's end. This is also an exciting time for the fans. With all the free agents, it's an opportunity to see some new faces in pinstripes.
With not much coming up through the system soon, Cashman has to look for the bargains in this class and get them to agree to a two- or three-year deal. The club will have to make one or two big signings as well to stay competitive, because there is no such thing as rebuilding in the Bronx.
The Yankees will probably have something in the range of $90 million to play with while keeping the $189 million cap in mind, and the team's shopping list will in all likelihood include a catcher, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, several starting pitchers and a couple relief pitchers.
Below is a list of several guys at each of those positions who could plausibly sign with the Yankees this offseason, with salary kept in mind.
It's difficult to predict these signings, as trades could factor in as well. In any case, change is on its way.
Robinson Cano is a free agent, which is the only reason this position is considered a need right now. He is the most coveted free agent on the market and is seeking a 10-year, $305 million deal, according to ESPN.
Cano will be the Yankees' top priority, and they want to re-sign him, but not at that price. I believe the Yankees have learned from their past mistakes, and if that number doesn't come down, the Yankees will let Cano walk.
If that happens, they will need to sign someone. I believe Omar Infante would be a nice fit. He has a solid bat and would come at a reasonable price for his production.
It's possible the Yankees just hand the catcher job over to Austin Romine and let him to continue to develop. But as I have stated in the past, they should make a play for Brian McCann.
His bat is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium, and he provides a toughness the Yankees lack. If the Yankees don't re-sign Cano, this is almost a must as his power will be completely necessary.
The Yanks should be able to get both McCann and Cano and make some small deals everywhere else.
If they pass on McCann, the Yanks could sign one of the many available veteran catchers like Carlos Ruiz or old friend Jose Molina.
Derek Jeter will be back next year when he picks up his option. Until further notice, Alex Rodriguez is on the roster and is the starting third baseman. Both players come with huge question marks. Jeter's health may never be relied on again and A-Rod has his suspension hanging over his head.
Eduardo Nunez is on the team to back up either position. If A-Rod gets suspended, the Yankees should look to make a move on Jhonny Peralta to be their everyday third baseman.
In support of Jeter, the Yanks should look to retain Brendan Ryan. He won't provide much of a bat, but his glove may be all the more important.
This is the section that will make or break the Yankees' season next year.
There will be plenty of turnover in the Yankees starting rotation next season as in all likelihood Cashman will have to replace three starters.
Andy Pettitte is retiring. Phil Hughes is a free agent and may not be re-signed. Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees' best pitcher through July, might retire, might play in Japan, or just sign with another team.
That leaves just CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in their active rotation. Cashman will first look within to fill a couple spots. I'd say David Phelps pitched well enough to earn a rotation spot next season. We are all still waiting for Michael Pineda to make his debut for the Yankees, and hopefully he will fill another spot, but he certainly can't be relied on.
The top free-agent starters available are Matt Garza and Ervin Santana. I'm sure Cashman will show an interest in both, as at the right price both would be more than serviceable.
Which non-Yankee free agent do you want the team to sign most?
Unfortunately, with those two being at the top of the market, their price may balloon for no real reason.
A guy I see the Yankees making a move on would be veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo. He would be a nice two-year fix.
Arroyo is a veteran with plenty of history in the AL East. He isn't flashy but a pure innings eater.
The other interesting name out there would be Tim Lincecum. He would be a giant risk, so I would only want him on the cheap. But that is the type of high-risk, high-reward move that Cashman could take in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.
Mariano Rivera is gone forever. The day has come to look for his replacement. First dibs will go to David Robertson, and he has certainly earned that right.
I've mentioned I like Edward Mujica, the most of the available closer options due to his age. But if his price is too high, there are several veteran closers like Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney available.
Boone Logan has also earned the right to be re-signed by the Yankees and continue his role as lefty specialist.
A guy I'd like to see the Yanks sign is Chad Gaudin. The veteran would be great in long relief and be a perfect spot starter.