Playing Sign or Walk with the New York Yankees' Free Agents
Not only are they the franchise with the most money to spend. They also have extremely large holes to fill.
The Yankees will be a possible landing spot for what seems like just about every top free agent available on the market.
Plucking the right guys in free agency from other teams will be crucial to the success of the Yankees' turnaround.
Just as important as signing the right free agents from other teams is making the right decisions on which of their own free agents to re-sign.
The Yankees have a slew of free agents and money coming off the books. Some will go, some will stay.
We know Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are gone because they both are retiring.
The rest of the list is up for grabs, with the very good possibility that none of the following 10 names return to the roster next season.
1. Travis Hafner
The New York Yankees took a flier on Travis Hafner at the start of the 2013 season and were immediately rewarded.
Hafner batted .318 with six homers in the first month of the season. He was one of the keys to the Yankees' unexpected fast start.
Sadly that turned out to be the only productive month of the season for Hafner.
He struggled the following three months, never cracking a .200 batting average.
His season would eventually end due to a shoulder injury.
The Yanks knew they weren't getting a whole season out of Hafner, but probably would have liked to have seen a bit more.
This decision will be one of the easier ones.
2. Lyle Overbay
If you had told the Yankees at the beginning of the season that Lyle Overbay was going to start 119 games and play in 142 games, they would assume the season hadn't gone as planned.
Sadly, that is exactly what happened when All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira was lost for the season very early on.
Overbay had his moments throughout the season with several clutch game-winning hits.
He hit 14 home runs on the season and was a serviceable batter against right-handed pitching.
He was borderline worthless against lefties however. Only batting .190 with just one homer.
With Teixeira back healthy next season, Overbay is highly expendable, especially being 37 at the start of the season.
3. Kevin Youkilis
I'm not often right on my thoughts on Yankee signings, but I'd say what I wrote about Kevin Youkilis last December was spot on.
He was a complete bust for the Yankees and his $12 million salary was wasted on only 28 games last season.
As expected, Youkilis could not stay healthy, but the injury just covered up what was destined to be a terrible season anyway.
In the 28 games he did play, he only batted .218 with just two home runs.
Youkilis is reportedly healthy and would have been ready to help the Yanks last season had they made the playoffs.
That didn't happen and I don't expect him to be given that chance again this season. The Yanks need an Alex Rodriguez insurance plan, but Youk is not the answer.
4. Mark Reynolds
When the Yankees picked up third baseman Mark Reynolds in mid-August he immediately made an impact for the team.
With New York desperate for power on the right side, he came in and crushed a three-run homer in his first game against the Boston Red Sox.
Reynolds has bounced around the league for good reason. He is an all-or-nothing type of hitter. If he doesn't get a home run, then he is probably striking out.
However, the Yankees will need someone at third base, especially if Rodriguez is suspended.
Reynolds has expressed his desire to stay with the Yankees, and for half the cost they dished out to Youkilis last season they should give him his wish.
I won't enjoy the lows, but the highs will be a lot of fun to ride.
Outcome: Sign (1 year, $5.5 million)
5. Joba Chamberlain
Joba Chamberlain once had a chance to be something great with the New York Yankees.
Now he has probably thrown his last pitch for the franchise.
Chamberlain blasted onto the scene in 2007, dominating hitters out of the bullpen.
He has never looked more comfortable than he did then.
However, his career was railroaded when the decision was made to make him a starter.
The infamous Joba Rules were put in place to protect Joba in his attempt to be a starter.
The right decision was to never make that switch.
Never the same and several injuries later, Joba finished his Yankees stint with a career ERA of 3.85.
I don't expect Joba to be a heavy contributor wherever he ends up, but it certainly won't be in New York.
6. Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes follows Joba Chamberlain on the list of former potential studs who lost their way.
As a prospect, Hughes was coveted by many teams and considered in potential trades for aces like Johan Santana.
The Yanks would not part with him for anyone, believing fully in his talents.
Hughes showed many flashes of that talent, even making an All-Star team in 2010.
A big season was expected of Hughes heading into his contract year in 2013.
To my surprise, Hughes ended up having his worst season in pinstripes, which crushed his free agency value.
Hughes went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA and finished the season in the bullpen.
Hughes is still being sought after by several teams, mostly because at age 27 he is one of the youngest available starting pitchers on the market.
It'll be sad to see a once promising prospect go, but there is nothing left in New York for Hughes.
7. Boone Logan
The Yankees have a lot of big ticket free agents available from their team this offseason.
Believe it or not Boone Logan could be one of the hardest to replace.
Over the past three seasons he has compiled a record of 17-7. He has struck out 164 guys in 136 innings.
Last season, left-handers only hit .221 against him.
He is a specialist who is important to a team trying to contend for a title.
Logan might not be a headliner, but if the Yankees lose him, they will have to replace him. Odds are the guy they would replace him with wouldn't be nearly as good.
Outcome: Sign (3 years, $10.5 million)
8. Hiroki Kuroda
The Yankees rotation was in shambles for most of the 2013 season.
Entering the offseason it is in even worse condition.
Hiroki Kuroda was the one constant for the team last season and the Yanks would love that to stay the same for another year.
Kuroda carried a sluggish staff all season and despite hitting the wall late in the year, Kuroda still finished with double-digit wins and an ERA of 3.31.
Kuroda has made 65 starts in two seasons with the Yankees and thrown over 200 innings each year.
He is as solid as it comes even at the age of 38.
The one positive for the Yanks is that they are more than likely competing against no other MLB team for Kuroda's services.
Pitching in Japan or flat-out retiring has been an option for Kuroda the past two winters. Each time the Yankees were able to convince him into one more year.
I expect this winter to be the same, though I'm not as optimistic as in the past. It'll take a raise.
Outcome: Sign (1 year, $16.5 million)
9. Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson would love nothing more than a do-over of 2013.
He was literally struck with bad luck all season, hitting the disabled list twice due to being hit by a pitch on two separate occasions.
Prior to last year Granderson was on pace to get a big payday. He compiled back-to-back 40-homer seasons.
He drove in over 100 runs and scored over 100 runs in each of those seasons. In 2011, Granderson finished fourth in the MVP voting.
He has the perfect swing for Yankee Stadium and even though he strikes out a ton, it was worth it for the power he provided.
I would have loved to have seen him pick up the qualifying offer and rebuild his stock for one season with the Yankees.
He rejected the offer and has interest from several teams willing to give him a multi-year deal.
I'll be sad to see him go but they just don't need him as badly as other teams do.
10. Robinson Cano
I have gone back and forth on what the Yankees should do with Robinson Cano.
The simple fact is they can not afford to lose him.
However, I am terrified of giving him the 10-year deal he is seeking.
The Yankees plan on beginning negotiations next week with Cano and those conversations will shape the Yankees' entire offseason.
There isn't a single player available in free agency or even baseball who provides the type of offense Cano provides at second base.
He is a sure-fire .300 hitter with 30-homer power. He is always in the MVP conversation.
He deserves to get paid, but all of baseball has seen how these long-term deals have panned out.
The Yankees are sitting on a pair themselves right now with Teixeira's and Rodriguez's contracts.
I don't want to see Cano go. The Yanks must sign him and figure out away for him to agree to a smaller contract worth more money.
If he is stuck on a 10-year deal, then it might be best to let him walk.
Outcome: Sign (7 years, $190 million)