New York Yankees Playing for Big Contracts During the 2013 Season

Anthony Maimone@@amaimone4Featured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2013

New York Yankees Playing for Big Contracts During the 2013 Season

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    Most fans are well aware at this point of the New York Yankees' plan to cut payroll down to $189 million before the start of the 2014 season.

    Entering the 2013, the Yankees have at least 10 significant players on their roster that can or will be free agents after the season.

    Their budget plans will make it next to impossible to bring back everyone.

    There are players the Yanks would like to bring back but won't be given a chance to.

    There are players the Yanks will have no interest in re-signing.

    Then there are the players the Yanks absolutely want and need to bring back, but the price may dictate a different outcome.

    The following is a list of players for whom a big 2013 season could mean a major contract in the future.

Honorable Mentions

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    Mariano Rivera: On November 29, 2012, Rivera signed a one-year deal paying him $10 million for the 2013 season. Rivera is the greatest closer of all time and could easily earn himself another contract. The problem is he may have no interest in one.

    Rivera has hinted several times at retiring and had it not been for a season-ending injury last year he probably would have retired already.

    Andy Pettitte: A day earlier than Rivera, Pettitte re-signed a one-year deal worth $12 million. Pettitte actually came out of retirement last season to pitch for the Yankees. Another strong season from the veteran lefty could result in another contract if he so pleases.

    Hiroki Kuroda: On November 20, the Yankees brought back their most stable pitcher from a season ago with a one-year deal worth $15 million. Kuroda proved he could pitch in New York and could easily earn a lucrative deal. The issue isn't with retirement from baseball for Kuroda.

    Kuroda has stated he wants to end his career in Japan, and still have something left for that final season. When he decides to do that is anyone's guess, but at age 37 one can assume it isn't far off.

Joba Chamberlain

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    Joba Chamberlain has had a roller coaster career with the New York Yankees. When he first burst on to the scene in 2007, he had everyone screaming his name.

    He was deemed so important to the ball club that management decided to enforce a set of "Joba Rules." 

    The experiment of converting a dominant relief pitcher into a dominant starter crashed and burned.

    Six seasons and several injuries later, including Tommy John surgery, Joba is still a reliever and is on the final year of his contract.

    It is possible a healthy Chamberlain could return to a form of his dominant past this season. He is still only 27, and with the pending Rivera retirement there will be an open door for anyone to walk through.

    The jury is still out on if Chamberlain can ever get back to his rookie days, but if there was ever a time to turn it around it would be during the 2013 season as he enters free agency.

Curtis Granderson

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    Curtis Granderson is not getting the treatment he probably deserves this offseason.

    In three seasons with New York, Granderson has been named an All-Star twice.

    He has back-to-back 40-plus home run seasons. He has scored and driven in over 100 runs the past two season.

    In 2011, he finished fourth in the AL MVP voting. If not for a bad September he very easily could have won the trophy.

    Yet, this offseason has his named tossed around in trade rumors and a new contract seems unlikely due to a slight dip in his performance last season.

    A big year for Granderson would lead to a large contract from several teams. It just doesn't seem like one of those teams will be the Yankees, and that is a shame for a player of his caliber.

Phil Hughes

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    Phil Hughes might be the toughest decision the Yankees will have to make this offseason.

    On one hand, Hughes is only 26 years old and the Yankees are in desperate need of some youth in their pitching rotation.

    He has had success while pitching in pinstripes, and outside of two games against Texas in 2010 he has pitched pretty well in October.

    On the other hand, Hughes has yet to reach the potential they were hoping he would reach when they were hesitant to not trade him for Johan Santana back in 2007.

    With that said the 2013 season is almost a catch-22 for the Yankees and Hughes. If Hughes doesn't pitch well the Yankees will have no interest in bringing him back.

    However, if he pitches great the Yankees will find themselves in a bidding war for a 27-year-old pitcher entering his prime.

Robinson Cano

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    There isn't a player on the Yankees that has more on the line this season than Robinson Cano.

    He is going to get a huge contract when he hits free agency after the 2013 season. There are two reasons specifically for that. The first is that he deserves it, the second is because he has super-agent Scott Boras representing him.

    Cano is in a class of his own when it comes to second basemen. He has finished in the top six in MVP voting the past three seasons.

    He has won two gold gloves and has one of the smoothest batting strokes in the game.

    His October slump left a sour taste in Yankees fans' mouths, but the reality is that the Yankees will attempt to do whatever they can to retain their team's biggest star.

    So the question that remains isn't do the Yankees want to re-sign Cano, but whether or not they'll be able to.

Derek Jeter

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    Derek Jeter has a player option for the 2014 season, so he might not end up being a free agent when this season ends.

    Jeter will be making $17 million for the 2013 season. The base of his 2014 option is set at $8 million with incentives that could reach up $17 million.

    As of right now he has only gained $1.5 million added to his 2014 salary thanks to the Silver Slugger he earned last season. I don't see Jeter playing out a final contract taking a pay cut of almost half his current salary.

    So it is possible the Yankees will have to deal with another offseason of trying to figure out what the right price and years to give the face of the their franchise.

    He proved last season that he still has plenty of game left in him, but he isn't getting any younger and now will enter the season coming off an ankle injury.

    If Jeter has another strong season in 2013 it will make things a bit harder on the Yankees as the team captain would have earned another large contract and the right to retire as a New York Yankee.