Grading the New York Yankees' Moves so Far This Offseason

Anthony MaimoneFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

Grading the New York Yankees' Moves so Far This Offseason

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    The New York Yankees have seen several of their own free agents ship out of town this offseason, none bigger than Robinson Cano who signed with the Seattle Mariners.

    The decision to not bring back those players, however, is a discussion for another day. Those players are gone, so it is time to focus attention instead on the players who the Yankees have signed.

    The Yankees wasted no time this winter in signing three major players before the Winter Meetings even began.

    From small moves to obvious ones, each signing thus far will make a significant impact on the Yankees' current and future endeavors.

1. Brendan Ryan

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    One of the first moves the Yankees made this offseason was to re-sign light-hitting utility infielder Brendan Ryan.

    The club inked Ryan to a two-year deal with a player option for a third. The money is insignificant, however, as the deal could be worth up to $10 million with incentives.

    What the signing showed was the Yankees' focus on a defensive presence as a replacement for Derek Jeter when he receives a day off.

    Eduardo Nunez has gotten plenty of chances to earn the spot, but has not been able to come through.

    Ryan is a safe bet with very little upside, but you need guys like Ryan on your team. He is not an everyday player, but a reliable bench piece instead.


    Grade: B-

2. Kelly Johnson

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    For the time being Kelly Johnson has some big shoes to fill.

    When the Yanks signed the second baseman to a one-year deal, is was to give the club some more depth in the infield at the time.

    Now, Johnson is looking at an everyday job in a Yankee uniform with Cano gone. Johnson is a veteran with good power at second base and his lefty stroke will play well in the Bronx.

    Signed for around $3 million, Johnson is a very cheap solution, but one who the Yanks probably don't want to play every day.

    Despite rejecting the Cincinnati Reds' offer of Brandon Phillips, the Yanks have shown that they are still searching for alternate options.

    If they pick up another second baseman, the Yankees can also use Kelly at third—another position where the Yanks may need help.


    Grade: B

3. Hiroki Kuroda

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    The New York Yankees were able to convince Hiroki Kuroda to pitch at least one more season.

    As it turns out, it might be the most important move they make this winter.

    Inking the vet to a one-year deal worth around $16 million, the Yanks ensured that they got back their most reliable pitcher from a season ago.

    The dollars don't matter much when dealing with Kuroda because they normally come at a price tag of only one year. The one worry for the Yanks is how Kuroda tailed off in the second half of last season.

    Kuroda, who will be 39 by the start of next season, is no spring chicken, but his 3.31 ERA in two seasons with the Yanks makes him invaluable.

    In a rotation still filled with plenty of question marks, Kuroda remains the guy the Yanks have no question about in giving him the ball every five games.


    Grade: A-

4. Carlos Beltran

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    It took about a decade, but the Yankees finally signed outfielder Carlos Beltran, who was the man the Yanks turned to immediately after losing Robinson Cano.

    A true veteran in every sense of the word, Beltran provides the balance at the plate and experience in the postseason that the Yankees cherish.

    The deal is for three years and $45 million, which is one year longer than I would like, but I am very glad it isn't any more.

    Beltran is not a great defender but does have an excellent arm. The concern is his ability to stay on the field. At age 36 and already with chronic health issues, Beltran is a risk for the Yanks.

    My guess is they want to make sure he survives the regular season and have him ready to be unleashed in October.

    As someone who is tired of seeing the Yankees lineup disappear in the playoffs, I've turned the corner on this signing and welcome Beltran to New York.


    Grade: A-

5. Jacoby Ellsbury

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    The biggest splash the Yankees have made this offseason was in signing center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury away from the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

    The seven-year deal, worth $153 million, is enormous and is about two years and $40 million-50 million more than I would have been comfortable spending.

    There is no questioning Ellsbury's talent, as he might be one of the best players in baseball and a true game-changer.

    Capable of hitting over 20 home runs in Yankee Stadium and of stealing 70 bases, he is a diverse leadoff hitter. Ellsbury also provides a stellar defensive center field. Combining him with Brett Gardner will cut off several balls hit into the gaps.

    The issue with Ellsbury is his ability to stay healthy. Twice in the past four seasons, he has played in less than 100 games.

    Even last season, in what was considered a great year for him, Ellsbury missed nearly 30 games.

    It is a huge investment the Yankees are making in a guy who relies on his legs to be effective. The best the Yanks can hope for is that he remains relatively healthy in the first few years of his deal.

    If he doesn't, this signing could turn out to be one of their worst.


    Grade: C+

6. Brian McCann

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    There wasn't an easier pairing this offseason than the Yankees hooking up with catcher Brian McCann.

    McCann is an absolute stud behind the plate, so the Yankees wasted no time in signing him to a five-year, $85 million deal back in November.

    The power-hitting lefty is going to destroy the short right-field porch at Yankee stadium.

    Yankees catchers batted a pathetic .213 a season ago and the Yanks knew they needed to do better. Considering that many thought McCann might end up with a deal in the $100 million range, the Yanks also got pretty fair market value for him.

    There is no bigger upgrade from position to position than this one for the Yankees. McCann is a gritty player who can provide a toughness that the team has been lacking for years.

    While Health could be an issue for McCann, that comes with the territory of being a catcher.

    There are going to be a lot of great moments in the McCann-Yankees era.


    Grade: A