The New York Yankees have already made big changes this offseason, but there are several more things that need to be done after Jan. 1 to get this team over the hump.
There are a few New Year's resolutions that Yankees management needs to make in an effort to ensure the most success in the upcoming season. The Bombers have been very active this offseason, but there's more to be done and more things that need to change.
Barring any major shakeups, the Yankees stand to enter next season as one of the most different-looking teams in the league. Making sure the newcomers are comfortable and ready to work is essential, but putting them in positions to do well is even more important.
Manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman still need to be active in the last six to eight weeks of the offseason. With spring training less than two months away, every day needs to be spent productively.
Sign Masahiro Tanaka
The Yankees, long considered to be the favorites to acquire his services, must not fail in their pursuit of the starter. Girardi should not feel comfortable going into the season with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, David Phelps and Michael Pineda as his five starters. Adding Tanaka and taking pressure off both Phelps and Pineda would represent an immediate upgrade.
Tanaka will likely command a big contract, but the Yankees have been holding out on free agents in recent weeks to make sure that they have the resources available to bring him aboard.
They have a good rapport with Casey Close (Tanaka's agent) because of Derek Jeter, and that could ultimately be a factor in negotiations. Tanaka will only be posted for 30 days before the Rakuten Golden Eagles take him back. New York will have to make a splash quickly to ensure that he's theirs.
Signing Tanaka will be the next logical step for the Yankees this offseason. Missing out on him will have a negative effect on the team in 2014.
Sign a Reliever
The confidence that the Yankees have shown in David Robertson this offseason is amazing. With Mariano Rivera retired and out of the picture, Girardi seems content with handing the closer's role to Robertson.
While that's a role that is well-earned for Robertson, the bevy of cheap closing options available on the free-agent market makes me wonder why Cashman hasn't made a move.
Joaquin Benoit would have been a great choice, as would have Joe Nathan. Both ultimately signed for a bit more money than Cashman liked, though—hence why they're wearing different uniforms.
Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour are now the talk of the market, and both could come cheap. Balfour is an especially attractive option. After his deal with the Baltimore Orioles fell through, Balfour set himself up for a cheap contract with a ton of incentives. That's something Cashman should be more than willing to do.
A one-year deal with a base salary of $5 million that could work its way up to $8 million based on performance would work for both parties, and the Yankees could even include a team option for a second year with the same salary structure.
That would keep Robertson in the role that he has been dominant in the past few seasons, while also bringing in an established closer.
Change the Philosophy
Losing Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and potentially Alex Rodriguez for 2014 will necessitate a change of philosophy. The amount of power that the Yankees have lost this offseason is undeniable.
Bringing in free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran helped to mitigate the losses a bit, but even their 25-homer power can't replace Granderson's 40-homer pop.
The Yankees need to play a bit more small ball this season. Don't expect a ton of sacrifice bunting, but Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury need to be active at the top of the lineup. If the two can't combine for at least 70 stolen bases, then Girardi is not doing his job effectively.
Putting runners in motion and getting them into scoring position is a must for this new crop of Yankees. McCann and Beltran are extra-base machines, as are Mark Teixeira and a healthy Brian Roberts. Heck, even Kelly Johnson can spray the gaps and post some decent RBI numbers.
While the run production potential of this Yankees team is right where it has been in years past, the power potential is less. The Yankees will need to hit well with men in scoring position and keep runners constantly on the move to push across runs.
That shouldn't be an impossible task for next season's Yankees.