The New York Yankees are about to embark on their most important offseason in years.
They just sat back and watched their biggest rivals, the Boston Red Sox, complete a worst-to-first turnaround and win the 2013 World Series.
With several major contracts coming off the books and more than $80 million to spend on free agents, the Yankees have the opportunity to right the ship quickly.
The key will be avoiding the bad contracts that have plagued them in free agency past.
I have a strong feeling that general manager Brian Cashman has learned from his mistakes and will approach this offseason very carefully.
The Yankees have plenty of holes to fill and they need to sign players to fill them.
However in the cases that follow, no contract is the best their money can buy.
I'll begin with a player who very likely could end up in pinstripes next season.
The New York Yankees and Carlos Beltran have been flirting with each other since 2005 when Beltran decided to sign with the other New York team.
According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the two parties have a mutual interest in each other this offseason.
For Yankees fans, that is a scary proposition. It's not that Carlos Beltran is a bad player. He's not, he's coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.
It's just that Beltran is not the player the Yankees need to sign this offseason.
Forget the fact that the Yankees have four outfielders already signed for next season. They could easily cut Vernon Wells or bench Ichiro.
Beltran will be 37 when the season starts and is already known to be injury prone. Even given a short-term deal he won't come cheap.
The Yankees passed on a younger, better version of Beltran back in 2005. It was the right decision then and would be the right decision now.
If the Yankees are truly interested in acquiring another outfielder this offseason, I wouldn't be surprised to see them go after the best one available on the market in Jacoby Ellsbury.
I can see the appeal. Ellsbury has game-changing speed. His impact on the Red Sox was beyond evident.
The pleasure of plucking the offensive catalyst off the Red Sox and using him at the top of the order is enticing.
Fortunately, there are several factors that hopefully will prevent the Yankees from picking up Ellsbury.
I can't envision the Yankees wanting to give the Red Sox a first-round pick.
Ellsbury also has a significant injury history. Lastly, the Yanks already have a younger, cheaper version of Ellsbury already roaming center field.
Brett Gardner proved his worth this past season and is under the Yanks' control at a very affordable price.
The Yanks will throw around money this offseason, but Ellsbury is not one of the players that will be getting it.
Sticking with current Boston Red Sox free agents, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was able to avoid a qualifying offer, making him more attractive this offseason.
The Yankees are in great need of a catcher. Salty will be only 29 in May and is a switch-hitter with good power.
However, there are red flags surrounding Salty in every direction.
He strikes out way too much to be a productive hitter, almost 30 percent of his plate appearances.
He was benched in the World Series for light-hitting David Ross.
His poor defense was on full display this postseason.
For the Yankees, it should be Brian McCann or bust. If they can't get him, sign A.J. Pierzynski to a two-year deal and get top prospect Gary Sanchez ready after that.
The Yankees are in dire need of some pitching this offseason and that is troubling because there aren't any good ones available.
This has disaster written all over it.
I am always leery of guys having career seasons in the final year of their deal. Santana shaved nearly two runs off his ERA from a season ago.
Santana has an issue with giving up the long ball, which obviously won't fit well in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium.
In 2012, he led the league in homers allowed with 39.
Santana has excellent control, but has a below-average strikeout rate. If the Yankees want to invest major money in pitchers going forward, they need guys that can bring the heat.
It is going to be difficult but the Yankees have to fight the urge to sign the top available guy just because he is there.
Bring back Hiroki Kuroda for one more year, take a flier on a veteran like Roy Halladay and work with the pitchers they have within.
If they can save some money for next offseason, they might be able to throw it at elite pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester.
With the retirement of AL Comeback Player of the Year Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are unsure about their closer position for the first time in 17 seasons.
The likely and right choice would be to hand the ball over to David Robertson and see if he can do it. He has earned that much being Mo's setup man.
However, as is always the case, the Yankees may look to add a more veteran option who has done it before than to give it to an unknown.
He just posted a 1.39 ERA at age 38. But that right there is the problem. Nathan will be 39 next season. With Robertson being a younger, cheaper and potentially better option, what is the point?
The Yankees themselves have had good success against Nathan in the past and I could easily see him getting off to a slow start and the fans turning on him quickly.
They are less likely to do it with one of their own.
So save the close to $30 million it might take to sign him and direct that money elsewhere.