MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Moves the Yankees Must Make in Dallas

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIDecember 6, 2011

MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Moves the Yankees Must Make in Dallas

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    The hot stove's getting even hotter in Dallas, as the MLB winter meetings started today.

    New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman arrived late in the afternoon, so he hasn't made any big moves yet.

    Brian Cashman has said he will probably not make any major moves this offseason, but we all know that he's never been one to show his hand.

    What should the Yankees do while in Dallas?

    Let's find out.

Add a Pitcher to the Rotation

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    The New York Yankees obviously need to upgrade their rotation.

    After CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, there are a bunch of average to below-average arms waiting to get penciled in. The market for starting pitchers is slim, and teams know that, so they'll try to take advantage of the Yankees.

    But there are a few names out there that make sense.

    Let me start by throwing out John Danks.

    He has been rumored to be on the move, but reportedly, the White Sox asked for top prospect Jesus Montero and top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos.

    That won't happen, so Danks will not be in pinstripes next season.

    Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt are also off Cashman's list of possibilities.

    Jackson has a lot of talent, but he has been mediocre throughout his career, and Cashman will not give out a multi-year deal for mediocrity.

    Oswalt, on the other hand, has a serious back injury, and according to ESPN New York, the Yankees will not bid on him.

    CJ Wilson is the next pitcher to cross off the list.

    His contract demands are ridiculous, he is already 31 years old, he has only two years of experience as a starter, has control issues—oh, and he has a 4.82 ERA in his postseason career.

    Mark Buehrle made a lot of sense, because he's a lefty, and because of his 3.59 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 2011, he shouldn't have been too expensive.

    But that didn't end up the case, because the Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals all reportedly offered him a deal for about $36-$39 million over three years.

    While that may not be very expensive compared to Wilson, that's too much for me for a player who will only give you an ERA around 3.60.

    Matt Garza is the next big-name pitcher that comes to mind who may be on the trade block. Garza posted a 3.32 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings pitched.

    Garza is also only 28 years old, has two years left on his contract, and spent three years in the AL East as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Garza makes a lot of sense for the Yankees, and if Epstein is willing to deal him for a reasonable price, then Cashman should listen.

    Gio Gonzalez is the best pitcher on the trade and free-agent market.

    Gonzalez is under team control for four more years, is a lefty, is only 26 years old, has a career 8.59 K/9, has pitched 200+ innings the last two seasons, and has an excellent 3.17 ERA over the same period.

    Gonzalez does have control issues, and would be expensive, but would instantly upgrade the Yankees' rotation.

    The Red Sox are rumored to be interested in Gonzalez, but they don't have the prospects to outbid the Yankees.

    Yu Darvish is the final name, and while he'll be expensive, due to both his posting fee and large contract, he may be worth it.

    The 6'5" 25-year-old righty out of Japan has ace written all over him, but so did Daisuke Matsuzaka.

    Darvish is a better pitcher than any that have come out of Japan, but it's a difficult transition to pitch in the majors. Not only are the batters better, but the mound and ball are different.

    Darvish will not be posted until after the winter meetings, so Cashman cannot make this move just yet, but Darvish should be on his radar.

Sign a Cuban Outfielder

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    Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler are the two biggest names on the international free-agent market outside of Yu Darvish.

    Yoennis Cespedes is a 26-year-old outfielder that has dazzled by posting a .333/.424/.667, 1.091 OPS, 33 HR, 99 RBI line in 2011.

    His name has been talked about even more due to a video on YouTube that shows off his incredible athleticism as he does a combination of baseball and NFL combine drills.

    Cespedes has five-tool potential, but his price tag may be up to $60 million.

    Jorge Soler, on the other hand, is 19 years old, and would start his career in the minors.

    Soler is much younger than Cespedes, has more potential, and will be much cheaper, but carries a bigger risk.

    Soler, like Cespedes, has serious five-tool talent and has the potential to be a special player, but no international player that young is a sure thing.

    Yoennis Cespedes may be more major-league ready, but when you factor in cost, age and potential, I would rather have Brian Cashman and the Yankees sign Jorge Soler.

Trade Nick Swisher

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    Nick Swisher is a great locker room presence, and he's a lock for 20-plus home runs and 80-plus RBIs a year.

    Sounds great, right?

    But Swisher is owed $10.25 million this year, and the biggest knock on him is his .160 batting average in three years as a Yankee in the postseason.

    If you cannot show up in the postseason you should not be a Yankee, because October is the most important month of the year.

    If the Yankees can package Swisher with some prospects for a starting pitcher, Brian Cashman should pull the trigger.

Trade Phil Hughes

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    Speaking of players who could be traded for a starting pitcher, Phil Hughes' value is dropping by the day.

    Hughes started out his Yankees career as a highly-touted pitching prospect, and showed promise by posting a 3.03 ERA in 2009, winning 18 games in 2010, and posting a 1.59 ERA in September and October 2011.

    But, he is injury-prone, and has never lived up to his hype.

    Despite his injury history, Hughes has tons of talent and is only 25 years old, so he could be a good trade chip.

    If Phil Hughes could be packaged with Nick Swisher and some other prospects for a starting pitcher, it would be well worth it.

Don't Be Rash

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    Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and Gary Sanchez are the New York Yankees' future, and the future should not be traded away to improve one season.

    For example, the Yankees should not give into Kenny Williams' demands for John Danks, but if Gio Gonzalez becomes available for Dellin Betances, Phil Hughes, Nick Swisher, a mid-level prospect and cash, then the Yankees should call Billy Beane.

    Brian Cashman has been very reluctant to trade his top prospects, and he should continue this demeanor in order to preserve the Yankees' future, unless the right deal comes to the table.