With the final out of the 2009 World Series, the contracts of seven Yankees expired: Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jerry Hairston Jr., Andy Pettitte, Jose Molina, Eric Hinske, and Xavier Nady.
The time has come for some of these players to be on their way. However, there are a few vital players that must be re-signed if the Yankees want to repeat in 2010.
Nobody was sure if it would pay off to have Matsui on the team this year. He was unable to play the field and could barely run the bases for the whole season due to knee injuries. But his bat was powerful enough to make everybody forget about those problems.
Matsui had 28 home runs and 90 RBI's in the 2009 season. He hit .274 with a .509 slugging percentage. In addition to putting up good numbers during the regular season, he surprised everybody with a great postseason, where he would win World Series MVP.
Matsui is a offensive force that the Yankees need for 2010. Even if he is just a DH and pinch hitter, his bat will force the Yankees to not regret singing him if they do this off season.
Johnny Damon has been a strong offensive presence his entire career, and he continued to be a great hitter in 2009. Damon hit 24 home runs, tying his career high, while hitting .282. In addition to tying his career home run record, Damon finished with a slugging percentage of .489, which was second only to his .492 slugging percentage with the Royals in 2000.
Damon must be re-signed. Although his fielding has consistently gotten worse and he now throws like a girl, his defensive skills are still strong enough that when put together with his amazing hitting, makes him the Yankees best option for left field in 2010.
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Jerry Hairston Jr. was a quiet, but good, midseason addition to the 2009 Yankees. He added speed off the bench and had a strong enough arm to enter the game when needed.
Despite having big contributions this season, there will not be a spot for him on the 2010 roster. The Yankees will already have a couple of great pinch runners (Brett Gardner and Freddy Guzman), and most likely the Yankees will add a new outfielder to their team this off season. There will not be room for Hairston Jr. in 2010.
After his performance in 2009, Pettitte has gotten more and more attention from the Hall of Fame. He is one of the greatest postseason pitchers in the modern era, and he continues to have outstanding control in his old age.
Pettitte won 14 games in 2009, and had large contributions throughout the season. At points, his control was outstanding. So outstanding that he was seven outs away from throwing a perfect game before Jerry Hairston Jr. made an error.
Pettitte is a pitcher that is most definitely needed by the Yankees in 2010. He will be needed as a consistent third starter.
Normally, I would say that a catcher like Jose Molina should not be resigned after his numbers in 2009 and his age. However, the Yankees number one catcher, Jorge Posada, is getting old and is most likely going to have to start getting more days off and/or be put in the lineup as a DH more often.
Francisco Cervelli did a great job as a rookie catcher when both Posada and Molina left with injuries at the beginning of the season. However, a young player can never be trusted to continue to put up the numbers he had previously put up.
Next year, the Yankees will need Molina as a third string catcher, as a backup in case something goes wrong with Posada and Cervelli.
What is there to say about Erick Hinske? He can't run, he can't hit, and he can't field. Sorry, Eric, but there is no need for the Yankees to resign you.
The Yankees have absolutely no need for Xavier Nady. It is that simple. He could serve as a strong pinch hitter, but for the money he wants, it would not be worth it. It is unclear how he will respond from his shoulder surgery, and the Yankees already have enough outfielders that proved themselves this season. Especially if the Yankees sign an outfielder like Matt Holiday or Rick Ankiel, there will be no room on the Yankee roster for a player like Nady.