New York Yankees: 10 Big Names They'll Target to Battle for 2012 World Series
See that cloud coming this way?
Like the Tasmanian Devil, that is a gaggle of Yankees fans as they call for the heads of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera and Nick Swisher, a trio who earned a combined $61.5 million this season and proceeded to go a combined 9-for-55 with three extra base hits, five RBI, four runs scored and 16 strikeouts in the ALDS, good enough for a .164 average.
But when the dust finally settles, it is very likely that all three will still be members of the New York Yankees.
For sure, A-Rod and Teixiera will be.
While most of the roster will remain intact, some changes are inevitable, though whether those changes come via trade or free agency remains to be seen.
After the jump, 10 players that the Yankees will check in on, and while some are more realistic than others, we are talking about the New York Yankees, a team that has proven in the past that you cannot count them out of the running for any player, regardless of what they may say.
Just ask the Boston Red Sox and Mark Teixiera.
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While CC Sabathia was largely ineffective down the stretch for the Yankees, there is virtually no chance that he will decide to not opt-out of his current contract.
Since joining the Yankees in 2009, Sabathia has gone 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. His average season in the Bronx has been 20-8 with 208 strikeouts over 235 innings pitched.
Re-signing the big fella will be the first thing that Yankees GM Brian Cashman—who is expected to re-sign with the Yankees himself in the next week—and his staff do.
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Like the Yankees, much was expected from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, and, like the Yankees, the Phillies found themselves eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Oswalt, 34, is coming off a 2011 season that saw him battle injury while going 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 139 innings.
With a mutual $16 million option on the table for 2012 and the emergence of Vance Worley as a legitimate starting pitcher this season, the Phillies may opt to pay the $2 million buyout and move on without Oswalt.
While he is not getting any younger, Oswalt is a seasoned pro and would be a nice fit in the Yankees rotation if he is willing to take a one or two-year deal, keeping a spot in the rotation warm for Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the Yankees' two heralded pitching prospects who are expected to be ready to join the big club in 2013.
Going into 2012 with CC Sabathia and Roy Oswalt at the top of your rotation sounds much better than CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, doesn't it?
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Until Prince Fielder, the 28-year-old son of former Yankee Cecil Fielder comes out and says that he absolutely, without-a-doubt would not consider signing with a team to primarily be a designated hitter, you simply cannot count the Yankees out of the Fielder sweepstakes.
Fielder is going to command a HUGE contract and probably will not sign with anyone until Albert Pujols signs and sets the market. Fielder earned $15.5 million this season and will be looking for a significant raise to at least $20 million a season.
Since the passing of George Steinbrenner, we have heard Yankees GM Brian Cashman utter words not before heard in the Bronx such as budget and fiscal responsibility.
At the same time, the Yankees basically print their own money, so should there be a real chance to add one of the premier bats in all of baseball to the middle of the lineup, I highly doubt that money and budgets will stand in their way.
While this scenario is not likely to happen, it could.
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Nick Swisher's struggles in the postseason are well documented, and the affable 30-year-old finds himself a potential free agent this offseason.
The Yankees hold a $10.25 million option for 2012, and it is likely that they will excercise it.
But they could also roll the dice and go after Carlos Beltran, who, while five years older and probably $10 million more expensive, has shown to be a significantly better postseason player then Swisher.
In nine postseason series, Swisher is hitting .169 with a .617 OPS, compared to Beltran, who has a .366 average and 1.302 OPS over four series.
Defensively, the edge would go to Beltran as well, though Swisher has proven to be a very capable defender in RF.
Like Fielder, the chances of Beltran landing in the Bronx are probably not high, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility.
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Michael Cuddyer is an intriguing option for the Yankees—a consistent bat who has the ability to play multiple positions.
Should the Yankees decide to pass on bringing Nick Swisher back, Cuddyer could step in as the starting RF in 2012.
With Eric Chavez leaning towards retirement, Cuddyer could become even more valuable to the Yankees given his ability to play 3B and could man the position on days when Alex Rodriguez needs to DH or when he is out for an extended period of time, something that is no longer a question of if, but merely a question of when.
Cuddyer has also spent time at 1B and 2B, and he's simply a better player than either Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, the two utility infielders the Yankees used this season.
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He cannot play the field, but David Ortiz can still hit the ball a mile.
Yankees fans are all-too-familiar with Big Papi's exploits, as a number of his biggest hits have come at the expense of the Bronx Bombers.
A thorn in their side for most of his career, George Steinbrenner wanted to sign the slugger prior to the 2003 season, but was talked out of it by Brian Cashman and the rest of his baseball people.
Ortiz, one of the more clutch players in the game today, would fit nicely in the middle of the Yankees lineup, in between Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez.
Of course, signing Ortiz away from the Boston Red Sox would be a nice poke in Red Sox owner John Henry's chest, reminding him that although the patriarch of the Evil Empire has passed, the Empire is still alive and well. It would also leave a gaping hole in the middle of Boston's lineup, yet another positive.
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I say Japanese pitcher, Yankees fans cringe at the thought of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa that is now dancing in their heads.
But Yu Darvish is supposed to be different.
A 25-year-old righty, the Yankees have reportedly scouted him quite a bit.
Darvish has only won two of his last nine starts for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, but his numbers over those starts are incredible: 1.34 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 11 runs, 12 walks and 88 strikeouts over 74 innings.
The cost to sign the talented pitcher will undoubtedly be high between the posting fee to get him released from his contract and a new contract itself, but the Yankees could easily break the bank to bring him to New York if they like him enough.
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Sure, the Yankees have nowhere to play Jose Reyes, not unless he's interested in becoming a DH.
Actually, becoming a DH might be a good thing for the oft-injured 28-year-old, giving his legs a break from the wear-and-tear of playing shortstop every day.
The Yankees will get involved with Reyes only to jack the price up for the Mets, a little "thank you" for the Mets decision to block the Yankees Triple-A team from playing the 2012 season in Newark, NJ—even after the Yankees offered to pay the Mets $250,000 and give them the right to move one of their teams into "Yankee territory" for one season in the future.
Chances are that Reyes ends up elsewhere, but you cannot discount the Yankees surprising everyone and reaching an agreement with the best player from their cross-town neighbors.
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No, I honestly do not think that the Seattle Mariners will trade the cornerstone of their franchise, 25-year-old starting pitcher Felix Hernandez.
But the Mariners are a team with holes all over the place, and with the emergence of rookie hurler Michael Piñeda, perhaps the chance to fill a number of holes by making one move would make them revisit the idea.
Without question, acquiring someone of his caliber would cost the Yankees at least Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, along with other pieces.
You can bet that Brian Cashman will kick the tires on acquiring King Felix before next season starts, and he is one of a handful of pitchers in baseball who would be worth overpaying to acquire.
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Like Felix Hernandez, I don't think the Oakland Athletics will be trading their ace, but it would be foolish to think that A's GM Billy Beane wouldn't move the talented 26-year-old if the right deal came along.
As the non-waiver trade deadline approached this past season, word came out that the Yankees would give up an exorbitant package to acquire the righty.
Presumably this would include Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances to start, along with a number of other pieces that would need to be included.
Like King Felix, Gonzalez is a pitcher who could be worth selling the farm to acquire.