Replacing Every New York Yankee Free Agent
The New York Yankees enter the offseason with 13 free agents on their roster. As is always the case with any team some names on that list hold greater value than others. There are players such as Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte where it's only a matter of time until they re-sign.
There are players the Yankees would love to have back if the price is right.
Then, of course, there is the group of players where the value doesn't match the price tag attached and departure is all but inevitable.
But what if General Manager Brian Cashman couldn't re-sign any of them? What follows is a list of players that would be excellent fits to replace the current free agents on the Yankees if such a scenario arose for Cashman this offseason.
Yankees fans might not have realized that Pedro Feliciano was a member of the team the past two seasons and is now a free agent. The reason for that is because in two seasons with the team he didn't throw one pitch as he dealt with injuries throughout his tenure.
With that said Feliciano was suppose to be a key member of the bullpen. The Yankees don't need to make a huge splash in replacing him but could take a gamble on right-hander Mike Adams from the Texas Rangers. Adams might miss the beginning of the season due to offseason surgery needed to address numbness in his pitching hand. A full recover means the Yanks would land a solid seventh inning reliever at a discounted price.
Andruw Jones smacked 11 home runs prior to the All-Star break last season. He added only three after that. If Jones wasn't hitting home runs he wasn't providing anything else to the lineup.
So instead of looking for a bargained power hitter in a free-agent pool that doesn't seem to have one, the Yanks should turn to a familiar face in Austin Kearns. Kearns is a professional hitter and could handle coming off the bench. His career OBP is a respectable .351 for a player not getting every day at-bats.
Eric Chavez did an admirable job filling in for Alex Rodriguez when he got hurt. Chavez hit 16 home runs as a part-time player. I'm sure the Yankees wouldn't mind bringing him back but in this scenario he must go.
To replace him the Yanks should look no further than Plácido Polanco. Polanco's career is coming to a conclusion as his numbers have decreased each of the past two seasons. However, he was an everyday player for the Phillies and will only be asked to supply a good glove late in games and provide the kind of offense that helped him make the All-Star team in 2011.
The chance to finish his career out on a title contender also has to be appealing.
Freddy Garcia played his role and played his role to the best of his abilities. When a starter went down Garcia was ready and willing to take the mound for the Yankees.
At this point in his career Joe Blanton should be willing to accept that same responsibility. This isn't a move that is going to win the Yankees their next World Series but they understand that you can never have enough pitching and Blanton is a bit of an innings eater.
Derek Lowe has done it all in his career. In several stages of his career Lowe has gone from starter to closer, back to starting, eventually finding his way to long relief with the Yankees last season.
Enter former starter, closer, long reliever Brett Myers. Like Lowe, Myers has pitched successfully as both a starter and a reliever and would provide excellent versatility for Manager Joe Girardi.
Myers has been on the Yankees' radar in the past and it would only seem fitting for him to finally dawn Yankee pinstripes.
The Yankees want Andy Pettitte back. Brian Cashman fully expects Pettitte to return and is operating as such. But the purpose of this article is to decide who the Yankees could replace Pettitte with if they were forced to.
By scooping up Joe Saunders via free agency it would accomplish a couple objectives. First it would help replace the lefty void Pettitte would leave behind. Second it would weaken the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff in the process.
Saunders is coming off a solid season and the Yankees saw first hand during the ALDS that he could handle a little postseason stress.
Rafael Soriano has already turned down the Yankees' one-year qualifying offer. The Yanks don't expect to re-sign him because the price tag will be a bit too high. However, Soriano was a big reason for the Yankees success in 2012 and he won't be easy to replace.
A good guy for the Yankees to target I believe is right-handed reliever Koji Uehara. You want your late-innings relievers to do one thing and that is to keep guys off the base. Uehara finished last season with just three walks in 36 innings.
If there is one thing to worry about with Uehara is his tendency to give up the long ball, but a reliever who can get both right-handed batters and lefties out is hard to come by and the Yanks could but him in situations to succeed.
New York Post's Joel Sherman has stated that Ichiro Suzuki would like to return to the Yankees. But that can't happen here.
If the Yankees can't keep Ichiro, I say they get back the player they traded away to get him in the first place. Dewayne Wise provided an excellent spark off the bench for the Yankees last season. In a limited role he was leading the Yankees in stolen bases. He wouldn't provide a ton with his bat but would be very resourceful.
Let's not forget, Wise has the amazing ability to get outs that no one else can. Just ask Umpire Mike DiMuro.
Raul Ibanez is the latest Yankee free agent to say he would love to return to the Bronx. The Yankees would have no problem doing so based on Ibanez's heroics this past postseason. However everyone must go in my world.
Much like the situation with Andruw Jones, there just isn't a ton of power available in the free-agent pool. The Yanks instead should look to add players that can do more than just hit home runs. By signing Shane Victorino they get just that. Giving the Flyin' Hawaiian a one-year deal provides the Yankees with a switch-hitter with speed off the bench and an athlete capable of playing all three of the outfield positions.
We are reaching the point of the free agents on the Yankees that would need significant replacements for the Yankees to maintain success. Nick Swisher was known as the perfect clubhouse guy on the Yankees. He was very consistent over his four-year period with the Yanks. However, his postseason failures were beginning to haunt him and his time has passed with the Yankees after he turned down their one-year offer sheet.
The Yankees should make a hard run at Angel Pagan. Pagan has played in New York in the past thanks to his tenure with the New York Mets. He is coming off a fantastic season, winning a World Series with the San Francisco Giants. He led the league with 15 triples and added 29 stolen bases on the year.
An outfield that featured Pagan with Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson would mean the gaps would be well covered, which would greatly help the Yankee pitching staff. If the Giants fail on re-signing him, the Yankees would be making a mistake not picking him up.
One day the Yankees will actually have to deal with the idea of having to really replace Mariano Rivera. According to Erik Boland of Newsday that day won't be this year. However, if that day were to come sooner rather than later, replacing the baseball's greatest closer of all time won't be easy.
Joakim Soria is only 28 and has the stuff to be an elite closer. According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com, Soria wouldn't mind the role of setting up for Rivera in New York. The Yankees should jump on that interest and sign him to a incentive laden deal to set-up David Robertson and potentially be the Yankee closer of the future.
Russell Martin is drawing a lot of interest this offseason from several teams. So being able to retain him in the first place would not be an easy task. Martin is looking at a pay increase and Yankees probably wouldn't want to invest.
While I have been assembling a group of players that have vast versatility and do more than just slug home runs, it doesn't hurt to get a guy or two who can do just that. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Yanks have their eye on Mike Napoli.
Napoli would be a great fit for the Yankees as he would provide offensive production from a position the Yankees have lacked since Jorge Posada left. Napoli isn't an everyday catcher like Martin is but he could easily find everyday at bats as a DH or first baseman.
Hiroki Kuroda might be the most important free agent the Yankees have this offseason due to his success last season and his reliability at an important position. Kuroda is drawing plenty of attention from other teams but Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com would advise Yankees fans not to be worried.
But being as important as Kuroda is, if the Yanks were unable to bring him back they would have to make a splash in replacing him. In my eyes Dan Haren would be a perfect fit in New York. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Yanks weren't that interested in trading for Dan Haren. But now as a free agent he would cost less to get.
Haren has been one of the most consistent and durable starters over the past six seasons. It was only last season where he made the DL for the first time in his career. You never like a pitcher with back problems but Haren is young enough to overcome that and if healthy would be a very high-end number two starter behind C.C. Sabathia.