5 Offseason Moves Brian Cashman Wishes He Could Have Back
Despite losing superstar Robinson Cano, the New York Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman had a pretty productive offseason.
Following a disappointing 2013 mired by injuries and poor performances, Cashman entered the offseason with the goal of re-tooling his roster. He attacked free agency from the onset of the offseason. That type of approach has generally worked in short-term situations from the Bombers, and Cashman wasted no time in giving money to high-priced free agents.
As the money kept leaving Hal and Hank Steinbrenner's pockets, the payroll kept rising and rising. It appeared as if the Yankees might be done spending by the beginning of January. Alas, those thoughts were quickly put to rest when we learned they were heavily involved with free agent Masahiro Tanaka.
Fast forward about three weeks, and the Yankees had abandoned their initial goals of ending the offseason with a payroll under $189 million.
While that may lead you to believe that this team will be successful in 2014, there are several issues with this roster that Cashman didn't address or simply addressed poorly. It will be these moves (or lack thereof) that he ends up regretting later on this year.
Seven Years for Jacoby Ellsbury
One of Brian Cashman's biggest signings was Jacoby Ellsbury—the team's enemy since he broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 2007.
Cashman awarded Ellsbury with a seven-year, $153 million deal once he found out that Robinson Cano would likely be accepting another team's offer, given his insane contract demands. That type of desperate play by Cashman could end up backfiring as soon as this season.
Ellsbury missed 28 games last season, 88 games in 2012 and 144 games in 2010. Staying healthy simply isn't easy for the speedy leadoff man.
One could argue that the Ellsbury of 2011 (.321/.376/.552, 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 39 steals) is worth that kind of money. Well, at least of similar money. Unfortunately, even in Ellsbury's other healthy seasons, his numbers haven't come too close.
He hit .298/.355/.426 with nine home runs, 53 RBI and 52 steals this past season, though again, he missed 28 games.
If Cashman is going into the next seven years of this contract knowing that Ellsbury is going to miss at least 20 games a year, then I don't fully understand the length or AAV (average annual value) of this deal.
It's not Alex Rodrguez bad, but it certainly isn't all that good.
Letting Omar Infante Get Away
When Robinson Cano walked, the Yankees were in desperate need of a second baseman. Their current roster has Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan and Dean Anna in line to take reps at the position.
I know, not exactly an exciting bunch.
Brian Cashman had a real chance at bringing in Omar Infante, however; and that's what he should have done.
Infante has hit .271 or higher each season since 2006 and has provided steady defense all around the field. Last season was arguably his best, as he hit .318/.345/.450 with 10 homers and 51 RBI. While not monster numbers, they are certainly good enough to hit No. 2 or No. 7 in the Yankees lineup.
Cashman really dropped the ball here. While there's no perfect replacement for Cano, Infante was the best player available and wasn't all that expensive.
Not Signing Joaquin Benoit
The Yankees had "internal discussions" regarding reliever Joaquin Benoit this offseason. Unfortunately, their interest in him never extended beyond that.
David Robertson is currently slated to take over the closer's role vacated by Mariano Rivera's retirement, and the rest of the bullpen isn't that strong behind him. The only locks appear to be Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, Matt Thornton and possibly Dellin Betances. That's it.
Bringing Benoit in to act as closer (or at least co-closer with Robertson) would have really given this bullpen the depth it needed—not to mention another power arm.
Benoit saved 24 games with a 2.01 ERA last season for the Detroit Tigers. Prior to his first real stint as a closer, Benoit had been working on three-straight productive campaigns out of the Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays bullpens.
The right-hander ended up signing with the San Diego Padres for two-years and $15.5 million. Why Brian Cashman didn't pony up that little amount of money for him is beyond me. I know you can't buy any player, but the team easily could have made room in their budget for a reliever of his caliber.
Giving Derek Jeter a Raise
Just because Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter is not enough warrant to give him a raise for absolutely no reason.
The Yankees gave Jeter a $2.5 raise (to $12 million) after he sat out nearly all of the 2013 campaign because of complications due to the ankle injury he suffered in the 2012 American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.
While that raise isn't substantial, one can't help but wonder what else that money could have gone to. That type of money won't bring in a marquee free agent, but with payroll flexibility on the mind for much of the offseason, it's confusing to see the Bombers giving Jeter a raise after becoming arguably 2014's biggest question mark.
That money would have been enough to bring in another veteran arm for the bullpen late in the offseason. Heck, it could have been worth just stashing for a spring training signing or something of the like.
Instead, it's being wasted on Jeter.
Not Preparing for an Emergency at First Base
Nobody knows what the Yankees are going to get from Mark Teixeira in 2014. Teixeira still expects his wrist to be sore for a good portion of this season, and that could mean bad news for the Yankees.
Last season, Lyle Overbay stepped up in a big way after being cut by the Boston Red Sox at the end of spring training. Knowing they needed a replacement at first, the Yankees stepped in and reaped the benefits of Overbay's resurgent season.
Maybe Cashman will look to pick up another veteran late in spring training this year. But the fact remains that the Yankees are not currently equipped to withstand losing Teixeira for any extended period of time.
Kelly Johnson can technically play a little first base, but he's slated to be the team's everyday third baseman this season. That pretty much takes him out of the equation.
The Yankees have nobody readily available in the minors to get the call and produce. Plus, we all know how reluctant the team is to thrust young players into major roles. That leaves the free-agent market, which isn't all that impressive.
Mat Gamel and Placido Polanco are really the only options available at this point in time. That isn't a good sign for the Bombers.
They better hope that Teixiera manages to stay healthy.