Yankees' Top Options, Potential 2014 Lineup After Losing Robinson Cano

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Yankees' Top Options, Potential 2014 Lineup After Losing Robinson Cano
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The biggest story of the MLB offseason to this point broke on Friday afternoon, as Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners agreed on a massive 10-year, $240 million deal just days before this year's winter meetings kick off in Orlando.

The New York Yankees' offers topped out at seven years and somewhere in the neighborhood of $160-175 million, and, in the end, Cano and agent Jay-Z took the money over a chance to stay with the team he'd spent the first nine seasons of his career with.

So the question now is, where does that leave the Yankees? It has already been a busy offseason, as they've signed two of the top free-agent bats on the market in catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, as well as secondary infield pieces Kelly Johnson and Brendan Ryan.

As things stand as of now, the Yankees' Opening Day lineup could look as follows:

Projected 2014 New York Yankees Lineup, as of Dec. 6
Name 2013 Stats
LF Brett Gardner (L) .273/.344/.416, 8 HR, 52 RBI, 81 R, 24 SB
SS Derek Jeter (R) .190/.288/.254, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 0 SB
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L) .298/.355/.426, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 92 R, 52 SB
1B Mark Teixeira (S) .151/.270/.340, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 R, 0 SB
C Brian McCann (S) .256/.336/.461, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 43 R, 0 SB
DH Alfonso Soriano (R) .255/.302/.489, 34 HR, 101 RBI, 84 R, 18 SB
RF Ichiro Suzuki (L) .262/.297/.342, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 57 R, 20 SB
2B Kelly Johnson (L) .235/.305/.410, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 41 R, 7 SB
3B Brendan Ryan (R) .197/.255/.273, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 30 R, 4 SB

Baseball Reference

It's fair to say the Yankees are not finished spending given how this current lineup looks, and they could look to add at least a couple more pieces to the fold.

As for that potential lineup, Ellsbury was not signed to hit in the No. 3 spot and likely won't, but at this point, he looks like the best option there. As such, expect the team to go after another power bat that would allow it to shuffle things around.

With the money they saved on Cano, it has to be assumed that the Yankees are in on essentially everyone still out there on the free-agent market:

So, who could they target?

 

Free Agents

Carlos Beltran

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Beltran has been on the Yankees' radar since he signed his massive seven-year, $119 million deal with the New York Mets prior to the 2005 season, and they may still look to bring the slugger aboard.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the sticking point on a Beltran deal for all possible suitors has been his insistence on a third year, as the Yankees have only been willing to go to two years.

Losing Cano could be reason enough for the team to offer up that third year, as it would likely pencil him in as the everyday right fielder and move the declining Ichiro into a fourth outfielder position.

 

Shin-Soo Choo

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The top bat still on the market, Choo will likely command a contract similar to the seven-year, $153 million deal of Ellsbury, though he will likely come a bit cheaper and perhaps for just six years.

Choo is one of the premier on-base threats in baseball, with a .389 career on-base percentage and coming off of a season in Cincinnati in which he hit .285/.423/.462 with 107 runs scored.

His defense would play better at a corner spot after being moved to center field out of necessity last year. And while he does struggle against left-handed pitching, he'd be a significant addition to the Yankees lineup nonetheless.

 

Omar Infante

Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The top remaining second base option now that Cano is off the market, Infante would allow the Yankees to move Kelly Johnson to a super-utility role or just to third base as the everyday option.

Infante quietly turned in a terrific season for the Detroit Tigers last year, hitting .318/.345/.450 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI. The soon-to-be 32-year-old has proven to be a consistent offensive producer and plus defensive option for several years now.

Chances are it won't take much more than the three-year, $20 million deal that the San Francisco Giants gave Marco Scutaro last offseason. But for a Yankees team without a long-term option at the position right now, that would be money well spent.

 

Trade Market

The team could also scour the trade market. While the Yankees are thin on tradable young pieces, they do have a few attractive trade chips and could shop Brett Gardner if they are able to sign one of the above outfielders.

So, who could they look to trade for?

 

Brandon Phillips

David Maxwell/Getty Images

The Yankees were rumored to be interested in Phillips back when it was first known that the Cincinnati Reds were open to moving him, and they could pick those talks back up now that Cano is officially gone.

Phillips, 32, is due $50 million over the next four years, and if the Yankees were willing to pick up the majority of that contract, it likely would not take much to acquire him. According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the Reds are not shopping Phillips, but for the right deal, they'd likely listen.

Even coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, in which he hit just .261/.310/.396, Phillips remains one of the top offensive second basemen in the game and he captured his fourth Gold Glove in 2013.

 

Chase Headley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Diego Padres seemingly missed their opportunity to trade Headley when his value was highest, as he turned in an MVP-caliber second half in 2012 and was among the most talked-about potential trade chips last offseason.

But after he hit just .250/.347/.400 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 2013, the team likely does not want to sell low on him this winter. So hoping he boosts his value and then trading him at the deadline is likely the game plan at this point.

However, if the Yankees were to offer up a package of Brett Gardner and a couple of mid-level prospects, that may be enough for the Padres to change their tune and deal the free agent-to-be. The 29-year-old be a huge upgrade over their current crop of third base options and could be a long-term option at the position.

 

Potential Opening Day Lineup

The Yankees will also no doubt look to add at least a starting pitcher or two, having already brought Hiroki Kuroda back on a one-year, $16 million deal to join CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the rotation. Again, anyone and everyone is likely in play. Free agents like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana, along with potential Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka and trade candidate David Price, could all be options.

The back end of the bullpen will likely need to be addressed as well, either with the signing of a closer or the addition of a setup man to allow David Robertson to move to the ninth-inning role.

That said, if the team were to sign Omar Infante (three years, $20 million) and Carlos Beltran (three years, $48 million), and trade Brett Gardner and a couple of mid-level prospect for Chase Headley, the offense could look as follows:

Hypothetical 2014 Yankees Starting Lineup
Name 2013 Stats
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L) .298/.355/.426, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 92 R, 52 SB
RF Carlos Beltran (S) .296/.339/.491, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 79 R, 2 SB
DH Alfonso Soriano (R) .255/.302/.489, 34 HR, 101 RBI, 84 R, 18 SB
1B Mark Teixeira (S) .151/.270/.340, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R, 0 SB
C Brian McCann (L) .256/.336/.461, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 43 R, 0 SB
3B Chase Headley (S) .250/.347/.400, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 59 R, 8 SB
SS Derek Jeter (R) .190/.288/.254, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 0 SB
LF Ichiro Suzuki (L) .262/.297/.342, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 57 R, 20 SB
2B Omar Infante (R) .318/.345/.450, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 54 R, 5 SB

Baseball Reference

These additions would allow the Yankees to avoid being tied up in any huge long-term deals but would still make give them a formidable lineup and allow them to spend a decent amount on upgrading the starting rotation.

This is all hypothetical at this point, and for now, the loss of Robinson Cano still hurts. But, in the long run, the Yankees may actually be better off for not being locked into another massive long-term deal.

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