New York Yankees: 10 Free Agent Targets for the 2012-2013 Offseason
The Winter Meetings just ended this week and as expected, Brian Cashman made zero significant moves other than bringing back their own free agents. The Yankees may be interested in Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes, but as of right now, they have not made any moves.
The 2011-2012 offseason was dominated by first basemen, such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the New York Yankees already have Mark Teixeira and had no need for either of them.
The Yankees need pitching to push them over the top to legitimate World Series contenders, and the 2012-2013 free agent class is full of great starting pitchers. The Yankees also have other important needs, such as right field and the left side of the infield.
This class of free agents is loaded, and Brian Cashman would be smart to take advantage of this fact and go out and make at least one huge deal. Let's see who they will be targeting in the next offseason.
It may be a little early, but we all love predictions, so let's look ahead at next offseason targets for the New York Yankees.
Players with options that are likely to be picked up:
The New York Yankees have three of the best catching prospects in the majors, so why would they attempt to re-sign Russell Martin?
Jesus Montero is the best hitting prospect in the majors (sorry Mike Trout) but his defense is subpar to say the least. Montero is too big and not agile enough to stay behind the plate and will be forced to DH, play first base or possibly a corner outfield position.
Austin Romine plays Gold Glove-caliber defense behind the plate but he does not have the bat to be an everyday player in the Yankees' lineup. Romine hit .286 with 39 home runs and 239 runs batted in during his five year stint in the minor leagues. It will not be enough to make him a full-time starter.
Gary Sanchez, with his great bat and excellent defense, will be the Yankees' long term option behind the plate but he will not be ready for the major leagues until at least 2014.
If Russell Martin signs a two-to-three year deal, it will make a smooth transition to Gary Sanchez for the next 10-plus years.
It feels like the Yankees' just traded Melky Cabrera and super prospect Arodys Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez.
Melky Cabrera was also just traded to the San Francisco Giants for Jonathan Sanchez, but if the Giants choose not to re-sign him the Yankees will be interested in bringing Cabrera back to New York.
Melky Cabrera hit .305 with 18 home runs and 87 runs batted in to go along with 20 stolen bases in 2011. Cabrera would be a great addition to the Yankees' outfield with Nick Swisher on his way out and before Mason Williams is ready for the majors, which should be about 2015.
Andre Ethier has won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Ethier peaked in 2009 when he hit .272 with 31 home runs and 106 runs batted in even in the Dodgers' pitchers ballpark, but dropped off to .292 with 11 home runs and 62 runs batted in in 2011. That is troubling, but it could just be a down year for him.
Andre Ethier would fit very nicely in right field and his lefty bat would slot in nicely in the Yankees' lineup.
Ethier will be 30 years old when he hits free agency, and if he gets back to his 2008-2010 form he may demand a deal up to about five years for $75 million. If that happens the Yankees may not be interested, but if teams are put off by his price tag Brian Cashman will give his agent a call.
Curtis Granderson was a MVP candidate in 2011, so after 2012 he will be up for a big contract.
Granderson may be 30 years old and hit .262, but any player who can play a premium position in center field as well as hit 41 home runs, 119 runs batted in and steal 25 bases is worth a big contract.
It make take about five years and $90 million to re-sign Granderson but it will be worth it because he is a legitimate threat near the top of the Yankees' lineup.
David Wright has a $16 million team option for 2013 which the New York Mets may not be inclined to pick up. If the Mets decide not to pick up this option, Wright will be highly sought.
Wright had a down year in 2011 due to injuries but he has still averaged .300/.380/.508, .888OPS, 23 home runs, 91 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases in his first eight seasons in the majors. Wright has also won two Gold Gloves, so he is a great defender.
At 28 years old David Wright is arguably the best third baseman in the major leagues alongside Evan Longoria. Alex Rodriguez is currently the Yankees' third baseman but he will move to DH due to his age and knee issues so Wright would slide right in at third base.
The Los Angeles Angels just signed C.J. Wilson, which means that Ervin Santana might be expendable. Santana has a $13 million team option for 2013 but if the Angels either cannot afford or do not think his option is worth it, they could decline his option without that many repercussions.
Santana is a 28-year-old flame-throwing righty who averages about 94 mph on his fastball. Santana also threw a one run no-hitter and posted a 3.38 ERA in 2011, and has pitched at least 220 innings in two straight seasons so he is a workhorse but also a little inconsistent.
If the Angels decline his option, the Yankees will be interested.
Zack Greinke may have been depressed in his past, which might make it difficult to cope in New York, but he has great stuff so Brian Cashman should be interested.
Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young with a 16-8 record, 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 242 strikeouts and only 51 walks, so he can pitch against teams with a DH effectively. Greinke also had a 10.54 K/9 and a 4.47 K/BB in 2011 so he has a power and control combo.
I am a little wary about Greinke because he reminds me of A.J. Burnett. Great velocity, high number of strikeouts and mental issues. There are better pitchers on the market, but Greinke would not be a bad plan B for Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees.
Matt Cain plays second fiddle in San Francisco to Tim Lincecum but he is still a Cy Young-caliber pitcher.
Cain is a 27-year-old righty with a 3.35 career ERA. Cain has pitched at least 200 innings in five straight seasons and posted a 2.88 ERA in 2011.
The most important month of the year for the New York Yankees is October, and Matt Cain has posted a 0.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 21.1 innings pitched in October. Cain has also pitched a 7.2 inning shutout in the World Series and won a ring, so he will have no issues with pressure in New York.
The only problem with Cain is the transition from the NL to AL and moving from pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Despite those issues, Matt Cain should be able to succeed in New York.
Cole Hamels was a part of the Philadelphia Phillies' "Phour Aces" in 2011, but with Roy Oswalt likely leaving, they will be down to "only" three aces.
Hamels will probably not sign an extension between now and next offseason in order to test free agency. If he does reach free agency, Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees will go all out to sign the 28-year-old lefty.
Hamels posted a 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 194 strikeouts in 2011. Hamels averages about 92-93 mph on the radar gun and is a true ace.
Perhaps his most impressive statistic is his 3.09 ERA in the postseason, and if you take out his horrid 2009 postseason, his ERA would drop to an incredible 1.72.
The Yankees will have to give him to at least six years and $120 million to sign him away from the Phillies, but it would worth it because it would give the Yankees two aces atop their rotation for four more years.
Mariano Rivera will either retire of remain a New York Yankee.
There is no way of knowing what his decision will be until after next season but I think he can pitch in 2013 if he still wants to.