Grading the New York Yankees on the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings

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Grading the New York Yankees on the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings
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The New York Yankees were largely inactive during the 2013 MLB winter meetings, though general manager Brian Cashman did put out plenty of feelers to free agents and other GMs.

In the end, the Yankees made no moves during the meetings. This, of course, came on the heels of an aggressive few weeks prior.

The Yankees were able to handle making no moves during the meetings because of their signings of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kelly Johnson, as well as their re-signings of Hiroki Kuroda and Brendan Ryan.

There's still potential for Cashman's feelers to result in new acquisitions for the Yankees, but the immediate results of the winter meetings were not what the fans were expecting.

 

Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips and Gardner's Availability

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The fact that Cashman turned down a proposed Brett Gardner for Brandon Phillips trade with the Cincinnati Reds was a head-scratcher for some people, though it was actually the best move for the team.

Watching Phillips and Ryan turn double plays would have been a defense lover's dream, but the fact of the matter is that the Yankees are currently in dire need of pitching help. With Johnson already in the fold at second base, Gardner needs to be dealt for pitching.

Gardner, who is in the final year of his contract, would likely be able to fetch a decent starter in return. He's a speedy outfielder who can get on base and play stellar defense, and his pop at the plate is deceptive.

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com opined that Gardner could be dealt for guys like Jeff Samardzija, Homer Bailey or Yovani Gallardo, though the likeliness of anything happening at this point is up in the air.

Not trading him during the winter meetings may actually push his value up, though. With Shin-Soo Choo asking for so much money, Gardner becomes a much more affordable option for teams in need of a leadoff man that plays center field.

 

Omar Infante's Contract Demands

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Omar Infante was largely considered the favorite to replace Robinson Cano when he bolted for the Seattle Mariners, but his contract demands have left the Yankees trying to play hardball with yet another free-agent second baseman.

Infante is reportedly seeking four years and $40 million for his next contract, but the Yankees countered with a three-year deal. At this point, it appears as if the Kansas City Royals or another team might scoop him up.

For a versatile player like Infante who is coming off arguably his best season in the bigs, $10 million annually over four years isn't going to be that painful should he begin a decline. Not offering him that contract could come back to bite Cashman if Infante signs elsewhere.

Sure, Johnson is currently entrenched at second base. Trading Gardner for Phillips would have been too expensive of an upgrade, but bringing in Infante and giving Johnson regular at-bats at third base (assuming Alex Rodriguez is suspended for 2014) would be a smart move.

Cashman needs to reconsider his stance on the matter.

 

The Competition for Joaquin Benoit

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The Yankees are interested in right-hander Joaquin Benoit for the back end of the bullpen, as he'll provide great insurance for David Robertson in the closer's role.

Over the last four seasons, Benoit has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. He posted a 1.34 ERA for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010 before moving on to Detroit and posting a 2.89 ERA and 28 saves from 2011-2013.

Signing Benoit would have been a great move for Cashman as insurance, but his inability to get a deal done during the meetings may leave the Yankees behind some other teams in the running for his services.

The San Diego Padres are believed to be the front-runners for Benoit, with the Cleveland Indians following closely behind. The Yankees are presumably third (or maybe even lower) on the list.

Benoit is deserving of about $8 million per season, and the 36-year-old would be a nice value on a two-year deal. Cashman certainly has the funds to make a two-year, $16 million deal happen, so it's puzzling as to why he hasn't made a move.

 

Conclusion

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The Yankees had an interesting, even if uneventful, winter meetings.

Cashman put a ton of feelers out there after losing out on Cano, but not one player decided the fit was right. The contract offers still stand, of course, but Cashman may need to up the ante if he wants to bring in some new faces for 2014.

The Yankees get an "F" for the winter meetings in terms of bringing in talent, but Cashman bit on the right players and left his options open regarding Gardner. Now, it's just a matter of negotiating with free agents and other teams.

Despite the "F" for actually bringing in new players, the Yankees get an overall "C" for the meetings. The position Cashman put the club in to make moves in future weeks is good enough for them to get out of the failing range.

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