Chances of Each Important New York Yankees Free Agent Returning

Anthony Maimone@@amaimone4Featured ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

Chances of Each Important New York Yankees Free Agent Returning

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    The crucial New York Yankees offseason has officially begun following the re-signing of manager Joe Girardi.

    With Girardi locked up for the next four seasons, he and general manager Brian Cashman can turn their attention to re-signing some of the team's crucial free agents.

    They can start with what they do know; returning to the team next season will be an outfield of Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki.

    Also back will be Mark Teixeira and pitchers CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Michael Pineda and David Robertson.

    The Yankees are probably secretly hoping Alex Rodriguez is not back for at least next season so they can save $25 million.

    The Yankees also know that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte will not be back next season due to retirement.

    So what that leaves is a decision to make on at least five key players this offseason on whether to bring them back or search for their replacements.

1. Derek Jeter

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    Derek Jeter isn't technically a free-agent as he has a player option this season for $8 million.

    The captain is more than likely to pick that up coming off an injury-laden season.

    Though the eight million is a significant pay decrease from the previous three seasons, Jeter doesn't have a leg to stand on in negotiations this offseason.

    Jeter will rehab this offseason and come back at the start of next season ready to possibly earn one last paycheck.

    The only way he doesn't return to the pinstripes next season is if Jeter decides to call it quits.

    Chances of returning: 100%

2. Phil Hughes

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    Phil Hughes' once promising career with the New York Yankees seemed to come to a crashing end this season.

    Hughes finished the year 4-14 with an ERA over five. He also ended the season out of the rotation.

    Hughes was never able to get comfortable pitching for New York and struggled mightily with the long ball.

    Hughes will be an attractive free agent thanks to his age. Teams might be willing to take the chance on him in a new scenery.

    A move to the National League could work for Hughes, but one thing is for sure, he won't be back with the Yankees.

    Chances of returning: 0%

3. Hiroki Kuroda

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    Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees best pitcher this season, might very well make the decision for the Yankees this offseason.

    For a couple seasons now Kuroda has contemplated hanging up his spikes. This offseason is no different.

    With all the question marks in the Yankees' rotation, I'm sure they would love to bring back Kuroda for one more season.

    There would be some hesitation this offseason because of the second-half slide Kuroda had this season where he went 1-7 with an ERA over five in his last 10 starts.

    If Kuroda wants to pitch again next season and is willing to do it for around the same price or less, the Yankees will certainly make an offer.

    I just get the feeling Kuroda is done.

    Chances of returning: 25%

4. Curtis Granderson

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    One thing is certain, Curtis Granderson did not have the contract year he was hoping for.

    Bad luck crippled Granderson's season as he made two separate trips to the disabled list due to being hit by pitches.

    Granderson hit 84 homers spanning two seasons from 2011-2012. He was primed to get a big contract had he kept up that production despite his high strikeout total.

    Sadly, a six-figure contract seems to be a long shot now.

    Granderson has always been considered a great clubhouse guy and handles the media eloquently.

    The short porch is perfect for his swing. He will get a one-year qualifying offer from the Yankees and if he accepts it the Yankees will be more than happy to have him back.

    I just expect Granderson to decline it and opt to try and get $50 million to $60 million contract from another team.

    Chances of returning: 35%

5. Robinson Cano

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    The biggest decision the Yankees will make this offseason is how much money to offer their All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano.

    Here is the simple fact: the Yankees need Robinson Cano.

    He is their only reliable hitter in a lineup that has been diminishing right before our eyes.

    Ownership is well aware of that fact and also that Cano is going to be seeking a 10-year deal.

    It is unlikely Cano will get his wish of that deal from the Yankees. But he will be made a very rich man if not by the Yankees, from a different team.

    The question is, and this plays in favor of the Yankees, which team can actually afford to give Cano that contract?

    There are only a couple of teams who could possibly match an offer by the Yankees and the biggest competition would come out west from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    When its all said and done, I expect Cano to be back in a Yankees uniform with a contract both player and team will be happy with.

    Chances of returning: 90%