New York Yankees: Chances They Land Albert Pujols and Each Top Free Agent

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IINovember 7, 2011

New York Yankees: Chances They Land Albert Pujols and Each Top Free Agent

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    Free agency period just began a few days ago and as expected no big names have been signed yet. As of now owners and GMs are making offers to players and discussing amongst themselves who they covet but no major moves will be made until the winter meetings.

    But this is baseball and everybody loves a good prediction so lets see the chances of the Yankees signing each big name free agent this offseason.

Heath Bell

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    2011 Stats:

    62.2 IP, 2.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 43 SVs, 51 K, 21 BB

    Despite being 34 years old Heath Bell was a very good closer but how long can he keep it up?

    The Yankees just signed Rafael Soriano and still have Mariano Rivera and David Robertson. I don't expect the Yankees to make an offer on Bell.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 0 percent

Ryan Madson

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    2011 Stats:

    60.2 IP, 2.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 32 SVs, 62 K, 16 BB

    Ryan Madson finally took over the closer's role in Philadelphia and performed very well but at 31 years oId he is not a long term option. Don't expect the Yankees to be interested in Madson either for the same reasons as Bell. He is already 31 years old and the Yankees have more pressing needs than their bullpen.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 0 percent

Francisco Rodriguez

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    2011 Stats:

    71.2 IP, 2.64 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 23 SVs, 79 K, 26 BB

    Unlike the two earlier relievers Francisco Rodriguez is only 29 years old. Rodriguez's option was declined by the Milwaukee Brewers making him a free agent. This is the same Francisco Rodriguez that saved 62 games in 2008 so he is very good but he would take a lot of money the Yankees should invest elsewhere.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 1 percent

Jonathan Papelbon

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    2011 Stats:

    64.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 31 SVs, 81 K, 10 BB

    Jonathan Papelbon may have allowed the game-winning hit that opened the door for the Rays to knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs but is still a very good closer.

    After five years of dominance in Boston Papelbon had an off 2010 by posting a 3.90 ERA but he bounced back in 2011 in a big way.

    He is 30 years old but if the Yankees signed him it would also weaken the Red Sox. I don't expect the Yankees to sign him but he is a remote possibility.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 1 percent

Aramis Ramirez

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    2011 Stats:

    .306/.361/.510, .871 OPS, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB

    Aramis Ramirez had a comeback season in 2011 but at 33 years old teams should be wary to sign him to any type of long term deal.

    The Yankees already have an old and overpaid third baseman so expect them to pass on Ramirez.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 0 percent

David Ortiz

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    2011 Stats:

    .309/.398/.554, .953 OPS, 29 HR, 96 RBI, 1 SB

    In an interview with ESPN's Colleen Dominguez David Ortiz had some interesting words about his upcoming free agency. After the dugout issues came to light Ortiz said how he felt about it, "There's too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year."

    When asked directly if he would consider signing with the Yankees he responded, "That's something I gotta think about."

    Perhaps the most telling quote of Ortiz's is:

    "It's great from what I hear," Ortiz said about the Yankees, "It's a good situation to be involved in. Who doesn't want to be involved in a great situation where everything goes the right way?

    "They lost just like we did, they just went to the first round of the playoffs. I ain't heard nobody coming out killing everybody just because they lost."

    The Yankees could use a short term option at DH and Ortiz would fit the bill. If he wants a two-year deal I expect the Yankees to coming knocking but I doubt the Yankees will give him more than two years and a team option.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 25 percent

Roy Oswalt

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    2011 Stats:

    139.0 IP, 9-10, 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 93 K, 33 BB

    Wallace Matthews of ESPN NY reported that the Yankees have no interest in Roy Oswalt because of his back issues. Despite this if Oswalt does not ask for too many years the Yankees would be stupid not to at least offer the 34-year-old righty a contract because 3.69 ERAs don't fall off trees.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 1 percent

Edwin Jackson

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    2011 Stats:

    199.2 IP, 12-9, 3.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 148 K, 62 BB

    Edwin Jackson is only 28 years old and very talented, but he is one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the majors. If Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild can effectively work with Jackson this offseason, he could be the steal of the winter, even though he is a Scott Boras client. Jackson will demand more than he is worth due to his age, agent and talent, but his upside is hard to ignore.

    Edwin Jackson is hard too predict because if he just wants a two-year deal then I am all for it but if reports are true and he is searching for a four-year deal I do not want the Yankees to make a push for him.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 10 percent

Mark Buehrle

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    2011 Stats:

    205.1 IP, 13-9, 3.59 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 109 K, 45 BB

    It seems like Mark Buehrle has been in the major leagues forever but it turns out he is "only" 32 years old. Nonetheless, he would only be a short term answer for the Yankees due to the workload on his arm and the Yankees pressing need to get younger. He is by far the safest player on this list, but his upside is not great either. Buehrle will get you about 200 innings, 16 wins and an ERA around 3.60.

    Buehrle may not be the big-time free agent some Yankee fans want, but he would not command nearly the same number of years or amount of money and would help stabilize the rotation. He would be a great addition to the Yankees rotation, and I would be very happy if the Yankees signed him to a short-term deal.

    Chances of Coming to NY: 20 percent

Yu Darvish

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    2011 Stats:

    232.0 IP, 18-6, 1.44 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 276 K, 35 BB

    Although he is not technically a free agent Yu Darvish will be posted this offseason and will attract many suitors, including the New York Yankees.

    Yu Darvish is a 25-year-old Japanese pitching phenom. Most people try to compare Darvish to other Japanese pitchers, such as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa, but these comparisons just are not fair because he is a better and more complete pitcher than both of them.

    Average of last five seasons in Japan:

    Darvish: 205 IP, 17-5, 1.71 ERA, 219 Ks

    Matsuzaka: 163 IP, 13-7, 2.62 ERA, 169 Ks

    Igawa: 200 IP, 15-9, 3.13 ERA, 190 Ks

    Darvish pitched the most innings, had the best record, by far the best ERA and the most strikeouts even though he was the youngest of the three. Darvish also has seven-plus pitches and tops out on the radar gun at 100 mph.

    One of the best reasons the Yankees should go after Darvish over somebody like CJ Wilson is that Darvish would not cost the Yankees a draft pick and his posting fee would not count against the luxury tax.

    The Japanese baseball may be smaller, which allows for higher velocity, but it also has less prominent seams, which creates less movement on off-speed pitches. The switch to the majors way be a difficult one but I think Darvish has the chance to become the first very successful Japanese pitcher in the majors.

    Chance of Coming to NY: 30 percent

CJ Wilson

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    2011 Stats:

    223.1 IP, 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 206 K, 74 BB

    CJ Wilson is probably the most controversial free agent on the market right now because of his mix of regular season success, postseason failure, age and lack of experience as a starer. Wilson is already 31 years old and would guarantee a large contract because he is the best pitcher currently on the market. I am not Wilson's biggest proponent but at the same time I would definitely understand if Brian Cashman decided to open up the checkbook and sign CJ Wilson to a four or five year deal.

    Pros:

    Wilson is a young 31 years old because he spent his first five seasons in the bullpen. Wilson also had to pitch in a hitter's ballpark, which will ease his transition to Yankee Stadium, but by far his most impressive pro is his 2.16 ERA vs the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays in the last three seasons (104 IP). Don't think he just beat up on the Orioles because he had a 1.16 ERA (38.2 IP) vs the Red Sox and 2.64 ERA (14.2 IP) vs the Rays.

    Cons:

    While Wilson has showed he is a very capable regular season pitcher, he posted a 31-15 record, 376K and a 3.14 ERA in 427.1 innings of work over the last two seasons, he also struggled during the postseason by going 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in October 2011. Some people believe that his postseason ERA rose from 3.70 in 2010 to 5.79 in 2011 because of the added pressure of being an ace without Cliff Lee. Those same people believe that he would lose that pressure by becoming a number two pitcher behind CC Sabathia but if he can't handle the pressure of being an ace can he handle the pressure of pitching in New York for the Yankees?

    I can see both views, but in the end, he will be too much of a risk for the type of money he will command on the open market. I think the Yankees should pass on him.

    Chances of Coming to NY: 15 percent

Jose Reyes

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    2011 Stats:

    .337/.384/.493, .877 OPS, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 41 K, 43 BB, 39 SB

    Jose Reyes has excellent speed and plate discipline that made him an on-base machine that rarely struckout. While he will never have any power that is not his game, he relies on making contact with the ball and hitting line drives and grounders into the gaps.

    His hamstring issues are my main worry but I also do not see where he fits. Derek Jeter just signed a lucrative deal with the Yankees and had a good season.

    I see Jose Reyes being very similar to Carl Crawford. A speedy player who gets slowed up by age and then becomes a slightly above average player with limited defensive range, no power and almost no speed left.

    Chances he Comes to NY: 3 percent

Prince Fielder

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    2011 Stats:

    .299/.415/.566, .981 OPS, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 106 K, 107 BB, 1 SB

    Prince Fielder makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. He is one of CC Sabathia's best friends and the Yankees have a hole to fill at DH if they decide to trade Jesus Montero for a front of the rotation pitcher. His left-handed swing is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium and he is 28 years old; he could hit 50 HRs for another three-four years. I am also almost certain the Yankees will make him an offer.

    Despite this I seriously  doubt the Yankees will make a major push for Fielder. His contract will be too expensive for a team who's number one need is pitching.

    Chances of Coming to NY: 3 percent

Albert Pujols

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    2011 Stats:

    .299/.366/.541, .906 OPS, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 58 K, 61 BB, 9 SB

    I am sorry Yankee fans who want Albert Pujols to come to New York but it is not happening. Pujols will demand the second biggest contract of all time (behind Alex Rodriguez) and the Yankees already have a great first baseman in Mark Teixeira. He may not be Albert Pujols but he is very good nonetheless.

    The Yankees simply do not have the room for Pujols, neither Pujols not Teixeira will move to DH.

    Chances of Coming to NY: 0 percent