Yankees' Top Backup Plans If They Lose out on Robinson Cano, Masahiro Tanaka
The New York Yankees have been the biggest winners in the offseason thus far, signing free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann.
However, the news hasn't been great over the last 24 hours for New York. And the bad news deals with the Yankees' two biggest targets this offseason.
Then there's the news that Masahiro Tanaka may not be posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, according to a tweet by David Lennon of Newsday—"Rakuten clearly unhappy with $20M posting max—understandably. Keeping a star like Tanaka could be worth more and they suggested that."
The Yankees are going to have to look elsewhere to make improvements to their team. But where will they look?
Here's a look at the Yankees' top backup plans with Cano now in Seattle and if Tanaka stays in Japan.
Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
5. Bartolo Colon
Although no official rumors link the Yankees to Bartolo Colon, he's a pitcher they should consider signing to a one-year deal, with a team option for a second year.
Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, tweeted that Colon is seeking the same type of deal Scott Kazmir got from the A's, which was two years and $22 million.
It's hard to argue that he's not worth at least $11 million per year, especially considering he made a combined $5.9 million over the last three seasons. During those three years (one with the Yankees), Colon went 36-25 with a 3.32 ERA and 343 strikeouts in 80 starts, and three appearances from the bullpen.
Last year, Colon was one of the better pitchers in the AL, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA.
However, he'll be 41 next season, and that's something that could make the Yankees hesitate at adding a second year. But, if you do a team option and Colon succeeds, then the Yankees would have him again for another year.
It's definitely an option the Yankees need to consider, especially since the market for pitchers isn't as great as it has been in years past.
4. Dan Uggla
Some people may laugh at the notion of trading for Dan Uggla. But if the Yankees are looking for power from second base, Uggla is not a bad idea.
With the winter meetings upcoming, that would be the perfect time for the Yankees and Braves to discuss a possible trade. But why would the Yankees want to trade for a guy who has batted a combined .201 over the last two seasons?
For starters, how does 20-plus home runs sound? Uggla has struggled even with his power the last two years, but he's still hitting a good amount of home runs. And to replace Cano, the Yankees might look towards someone that is a deep-ball threat. He's hit 30 home runs in the past, and there's no reason to believe that in a hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, he couldn't do it again.
Plus, the Yankees wouldn't have to take on Uggla's full salary, as the Braves are looking for a trade partner that would take on at least a portion of the $26 million owed to him over the next two years.
And it's not as if the Yankees will have to give up a top prospect for Uggla. His value is so low right now, the Yankees could get away with giving up a mid-level prospect in return.
It's a far-fetched idea, but if the Yankees get desperate, anything can happen.
3. Hiroki Kuroda
With the possibility of Masahiro Tanaka not coming to the states, it's imperative that the Yankees re-sign Hiroki Kuroda.
The right-hander has proven he can handle the bright lights of New York. Over the last two years, he's gone 27-24 with a 3.31 ERA. He's had success before in his late 30s, and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't have success again in 2014.
The Yankees have made an offer to Kuroda, which Marc Carig of Newsday tweeted was something Kuroda was mulling over and wouldn't have word about until after the winter meetings.
If the Yankees were smart, they'd up the total offered by another $2-3 million to ensure Kuroda returns to the Bronx.
There's not much returning other than CC Sabathia as it is. Kuroda's return would give a little bit more stability in the starting rotation heading into 2014.
2. Matt Garza
Matt Garza stands to benefit the most if Masahiro Tanaka stays in Japan.
After dealing with injuries in 2012 (and part of 2013), Garza is one of the top pitchers available on the market and is someone the Yankees have to look at.
He's a big-time strikeout pitcher (when he's healthy) and averaged 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings over the last three years. He is also someone who is more likely to get a grounder, as opposed to a fly ball over the last three years, according to Brooksbaseball.net:
Why is getting more grounders important to the Yankees? Yankee Stadium is known as a hitter's park. According to ESPN's Park Factors, Yankee Stadium had the seventh-highest total in runs (1.087), ninth-highest totals in home runs (1.128) and fifth-highest total in hits (1.046).
Keeping the ball down is important to the success of any pitcher in Yankee Stadium, and that's something Garza does.
Garza has the stuff to compete in Yankee Stadium and should be the top priority at pitcher for the Yankees should Tanaka stay in Japan.
1. Omar Infante
While the Yankees will no doubt need to get a little starting pitching together, they must also find a suitable replacement for Cano at second base. Enter Omar Infante.
In a weak market for second basemen, Infante is the one free-agent player at that position that could succeed in New York.
Since becoming a full-time player in 2010, Infante has done nothing but succeed. Here's how he's done over the last four years:
Infante isn't going to turn heads with power, but he's a consistent hitter at the bottom of the lineup.
And let's not forget he can play multiple positions as well. So, if an injury were to happen somewhere on the infield or in the outfield, Infante could fill in.
For the Yankees, with Cano gone Infante would be the best person to fill that spot. By signing him to a two-year deal, the Yankees would then be in a position to make a run at Howie Kendrick, Everth Cabrera or Daniel Murphy to take over at second base when they become free agents after the 2015 season.
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