Predicting Where New York Yankees' Top 5 Remaining Free-Agent Targets Will Land

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIINovember 18, 2013

Predicting Where New York Yankees' Top 5 Remaining Free-Agent Targets Will Land

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    The New York Yankees are eyeing several big-name free agents this winter, but signing all of them certainly won't be easy for general manager Brian Cashman. Of their top five targets, maybe only one or two of them will end up signing with the Yankees.

    Some of the Yankees' top targets will be heavily courted by other teams as well. The Yankees are looking at impact players, and they're obviously going to be highly sought after. With this being the case, look for small bidding wars to ensue between the Yankees and the competition.

    Teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles will surely give the Bombers a run for their money on several marquee free agents, as they all have the funds and the roster holes to necessitate a deal.

    The Yankees have a plethora of needs, and it will be impossible for Cashman to fill each hole with a top-flight free agent. Some of their top five targets will sign elsewhere.

Masahiro Tanaka

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    Masahiro Tanaka may not even be posted, but if he is, expect the Yankees to go hard after the potential ace.

    Should he get posted, the fee to negotiate with him will be enormous. The Yankees presumably have the available funds to win the post, but there will be stiff competition from several other teams around the league.

    The good news about Tanaka is that the Yankees will essentially be negotiating with themselves. If they win the bidding, then all they'll have to do is offer Tanaka a fair sum of money. No other team can sign him after the Yankees win the bid.

    That's the only obstacle, though. Cashman will have to offer up enough to win negotiating rights. I'm confident that the Yankees will pony up the cash to get negotiations started, and they certainly won't let him walk after winning the bid.

    Tanaka will be the Yankees' No. 2 or 3 starter in 2014.

Carlos Beltran

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    According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, switch-hitter Carlos Beltran has interest in the Yankees this offseason, but there will be competition from several other teams.

    The Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers have been linked to him, per Andy Martino of the Daily News, but the Rangers likely represent the more serious threat. They will more than likely be letting Nelson Cruz walk, and that opens up a serious need for power in Texas' outfield.

    Outside of Robinson Cano, Beltran is arguably the top power bat on the market. This will likely drive his price up, and his price range may end up being too high for Brian Cashman's liking.

    It's pretty simple. The Yankees have been burned by handing out expensive contracts to older players, and at 36 years old, Beltran fits the bill as an older guy who may not be worth $15 million-plus per season.

    The Rangers appear desperate to replace offensive numbers, and they've taken chances on older players before (see: Lance Berkman and Vladimir Guerrero). I think they'll beat out the Bombers and sign Beltran.

Brian McCann

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    This one really is a toss-up.

    The Yankees are planning on making a "full-court press" for Brian McCann, reports Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, but the Texas Rangers are also working hard to bring him aboard, per Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

    McCann would presumably be a good fit in Yankee Stadium given the short porch in right field, but his on-base percentage is on the decline, and his ability to catch over 100 games in a season may be in question.

    The Yankees also have Gary Sanchez on the way within a few seasons, so it may not be the wisest of decisions to sign a catcher to a multi-year deal.

    The Rangers, on the other hand, are in need of a catcher and would also be a good fit for McCann. They would presumably be more willing to hand out a long-term deal than the Yankees would be.

    I put the chances of McCann signing with the Yankees at 40-60, because I think the Rangers are a real threat. In the end, I think Texas gets him.

Grant Balfour

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    The Yankees need a closer, and Grant Balfour may be the perfect candidate to step up for the job.

    Balfour will be 36 by spring training, but he's pitching just as well as he did five seasons ago. Last season, Balfour saved 38 games for the Oakland Athletics and posted a 2.59 ERA in the process.

    The market for Balfour doesn't appear to be too involved at this point in the offseason, but the Yankees are rumored to be interested in his services, per Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. Signing Balfour would be a great move by Cashman, as it would solidify a back end of the bullpen in serious question.

    Cashman would be able to offer Balfour two years at about $10 million per season, and that should be enough to coax him into coming to the Bronx. He has the mentality to pitch in New York and has pitched in pretty high pressure situations over the past two seasons in Oakland.

    His affordability, consistency and mentality in the ninth inning make him an attractive option. I don't see the Yankees letting him sign elsewhere.

Robinson Cano

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    Robinson Cano is the Yankees' top target this offseason—and rightfully so. They'll likely wait to negotiate with him until after a few other dominoes fall into place, but expect them to leave plenty of room to fit him into their 2014 budget.

    At this point, it doesn't appear as if there is much of a market for Cano. The Yankees are seemingly the only team willing enough to shell out top dollar for his services, but the end contract certainly won't be the obscene amount of money that he's asking for.

    The Yankees will lock up Cano this offseason. He'll finish his career with the Bombers. There simply isn't another team that will be willing to make that type of commitment to a second baseman on the wrong side of 30.

    I predict a seven-year contract worth $200 million for the 31-year-old, and that should be plenty to convince him to return.