While "busy" might be the best word to describe the offseason for the New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman, "hectic" is probably the best word to describe the upcoming month leading up to when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The Yankees are still a team with several holes to fill. The starting rotation needs work, as does the bullpen. While signing middle infielders has been a priority for Cashman, he would be wise to bring in a corner infielder to play behind Mark Teixeira when he needs a day's rest.
There are always rumors surrounding the Yankees, and it's important to take note of which ones are legitimate and which ones are garbage. There's a little of both happening right now as the team continues to explore all of its options with spring training not far down the road.
Not everyone in the team's upper management is sold on Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post.
Tanaka, widely considered the best pitcher still available this offseason, is looking to land a monster contract before signing on Jan. 24—the last day he has to sign before he goes back to Japan.
Failing to sign Tanaka would really impact the Yankees' offseason. Brian Cashman has addressed the starting lineup in the past three months, but he hasn't touched the pitching staff—aside from re-signing Hiroki Kuroda.
If they pass on Tanaka, then the Yankees will be forced to bid on inconsistent starters like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza. Sure, Tanaka has never thrown a pitch in the majors, but he still appears to be the most attractive pitcher available at this point.
While I'm not selling the report by Martin, I deem it very unlikely that the Yankees will let Tanaka slip away. This is a huge chance for them to make an impact signing on a young pitcher who can help them make a few runs deep into the playoffs.
Verdict: The Yankees will sign Tanaka (Buy)
Surprisingly, shortstop Stephen Drew is without a home. His agent, Scott Boras, is looking to expand the market for his client, as he told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Drew has been talking to teams that could potentially be interested in him playing second or third base.
Drew, a phenomenal shortstop, declined the qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox at the onset of the offseason. His ties to draft-pick compensation have slowed the market for him, and there's no indications of when he'll be signing.
Martino cites that the Yankees have a need for an infielder like Drew, but I'm not so sure.
Brian Roberts and prospect Dean Anna likely have second base taken care of (barring major injuries or lack of production). Kelly Johnson will man third base most of the time, with a decent portion of time seen at second base.
Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez are also still on the team, but Nunez may find himself without a job given Ryan's new two-year pact (with a 2016 option) he signed this offseason.
I don't see the fit for Drew, and I don't see the Yankees shelling out the cash for a guy who will likely be overpaid. His production at the plate doesn't match the price tag.
Ervin Santana is a Plan-B option for the Yankees—nothing else.
While Masahiro Tanaka is the top priority for the rotation, the Yankees have kept tabs on Santana in recent weeks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the Yankees did a little checking up on him as recently as Jan. 13:
It's hard to picture a scenario where the Yankees sign Santana instead of Tanaka. Despite the reported split of the front office in regard to Tanaka, he still appears to be the top target. Plus, serious talks would need to pick up within the next week or so if he were to sign before Tanaka.
Look for the market for Santana to heat up once February rolls around. That's when pitching-desperate teams will make moves after missing out on Tanaka. That's when the Yankees might swoop in. But for now, he's not really on the radar.
The Yankees have been linked to San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley for several seasons now, but Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that they might be in on a different Padres infielder:
Sources: Yankees have made trade inquiry to Padres about infield depth; Logan Forsythe is the most realistic target, not Chase Headley.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 14, 2014
Logan Forsythe, 24, is nothing more than an average utility man in the field. He can play nearly all over the diamond and even some outfield, though he is best suited to play second and third base. He handles the stick pretty well for a reserve infielder, but not enough to make him a priority for the Yankees.
Morosi also tweeted out just where he thinks Forsythe fits with the Bombers:
Yankees farm system is not strong enough to acquire Chase Headley now; Logan Forsythe could be a RH complement to Kelly Johnson at 3B.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 14, 2014
The team's continued interest in adding more borderline infielders is questionable, though trading for Forsythe really wouldn't be a horrible move. He likely won't require much of a return, and having him split time with Johnson at third would also allow Johnson to play more at second base.
It's a trade worth exploring.
Alex Rodriguez is already a Yankee, so this rumor's is a little different.
While likely an upgrade over Kelly Johnson at third, Rodriguez might not be in great baseball shape after sitting out an entire year. Plus, there's no avoiding the media distraction that will inevitably follow him everywhere he goes.
The Yankees owe him $61 million through 2015, 2016 and 2017. They could try to cut him or trade him, but other teams might not be willing to give up talent in exchange for an oft-injured, oft-scrutinized third baseman on the wrong side of 35.
Rodriguez may wind up playing with the Yankees in 2015 by default as a result. The Yankees knew what they were getting into when they inked him to a 10-year deal, and now they are suffering the consequences.
Much to the chagrin of Yankees fans everywhere, Rodriguez will more than likely finish out his contract (and possibly career) in the Bronx.