Setting Odds for Yankees to Land Each of Their Expected Offseason Targets
You can be sure that New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn't going to let the top free agents on the market sign without at least giving their agents a call.
The Yankees go in to every offseason with high expectations. After failing to make the playoffs in 2014, some roster reconstruction is in order. Most of the blame should be placed on the offense, but the wealth of pitching this winter should make it hard for Cashman to pass up signing at least one arm.
While spending money frivolously is in the Yankees handbook, this team has been outbid before. Players have chosen other teams to play for. It's never a lock that a player will sign with the Bombers once the pursuit begins.
There's no guarantees to signing any free agent on the market. Even re-signing free agents is not something we can 100 percent count on. With the way free agency works today, anything can happen.
Continue reading to see the odds for the Yankees to land each of their expected offseason targets.
Victor Martinez, DH
Victor Martinez will be 36 in December, but the offensive struggles of the Yankees this year warrant exploring every option. V-Mart just posted the best numbers in his career at age 35, so he will presumably keep it up for at least the next few seasons.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported that Martinez is likely seeking a four-year deal, something that not too many teams should be interested in. If a four-year deal were ending in his age-36 season, then it'd be an entirely different story. But this contract would be starting at age 36.
The Yankees will certainly check in. His ability to switch-hit in the middle of the order would create a matchup nightmare for managers, especially if Carlos Beltran can maintain his health and hit third all season. Having two switch-hitters back to back would be a plus for Joe Girardi.
Then there's the question of where he'll play. He's really just a designated hitter at this point in his career, and that spot was thought to be reserved for a rotation of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Beltran. Martinez would require 150 games of at-bats there.
He can play first base in a pinch, but the last thing the Yanks want to do is risk him getting hurt in the field.
With so many questions attached to Martinez, the Yankees should probably just pass. But they won't. Other teams need him more, though, so their chances of landing him aren't particularly high.
Probability that Martinez Joins the Yankees: 5 Percent
James Shields, RHP, and Jon Lester, LHP
James Shields and Jon Lester are two of the biggest names on the pitching market, and there might only be a handful of teams that don't call to check in on their asking prices.
The Yankees will certainly be one of the teams to call both parties.
Pitching is a bit of a need for the Bombers. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka are injury concerns. Hiroki Kuroda could retire or return to Japan. Michael Pineda will have to prove that he can duplicate last season's impressive showing. Shane Greene, David Phelps, Brett Marshall and Chase Whitley could be nothing more than organizational depth.
The pursuit of Shields and Lester will probably be strong, but other teams might be inclined to go the extra mile to lure them into their cities.
The Yankees are always players because of their money, but Shields and Lester are bona fide aces who will command top dollar and a good amount of length. Given their recent history of long contracts, the Yankees might not feel inclined to shell another one out.
Probability That Either Shields or Lester Join the Yankees: 15 Percent
Andrew Miller, LHP
Andrew Miller was nearly untouchable in the playoffs for the Baltimore Orioles. He allowed just one hit in 7.1 innings, striking out eight along the way.
On the season, he posted an ERA of 2.02 in 62.1 innings. He struck out 103. That's just unfair.
Miller was primarily a setup man this past season, though he did work a little as a lefty specialist. He won't be a specialist next season, as teams are going to pay him well to pitch in high-leverage situations.
It wouldn't be crazy to see Miller closing games next season, but the Yankees could look to lock him up to a four-year deal worth around $25 million to be a late-inning guy. He's just 29 years old and is entering the prime of his career.
Much of this hinges on the team's decision-making process with David Robertson. The closer is a first-time free agent. With Dellin Betances waiting in the wings, the team could let Robertson walk and use Betances as the closer.
In this situation, Miller would provide an insurance plan if Betances struggles.
With Robertson in the mix, the Yanks probably couldn't afford Miller given the contract Robertson will command.
Robertson spoke about his next contract in August, via George A. King III of the New York Post: "I thought the calls would come [during the offseason] but at this point right now I am going to wait and see how the season plays out."
He added, "This offseason I probably would have gone for a discount, although I wasn’t a closer."
The Yankees might not give Robertson big bucks. They can give Miller moderate money instead. But it all depends on how much money Brian Cashman wants to spend on the bullpen.
Probability of Miller Joining the Yankees: 20 Percent
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS/2B
With no Derek Jeter and no second baseman, the Yankees need some work in the middle of the infield. Of course, there are options at each position.
Stephen Drew could be re-signed to play short. Brendan Ryan could play the position as well.
At second, the team could choose to give Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela a look in spring training.
There's a player on the market who can play both positions, however, and he isn't far removed from a strong offensive season.
Asdrubal Cabrera was a pivotal part of the Washington Nationals' playoff push during the second half of the season. He posted a .700 OPS in 49 games down the stretch for the club.
He posted a .792 OPS with 25 homers and 92 RBI in 2011 for the Cleveland Indians, though. That is clearly the best season of his career, but the Yankees could try to catch lightning in a bottle and hope he approaches 15-20 homers next season in Yankee Stadium.
There are a ton of benefits to signing Cabrera. He's clearly versatile, his bat has potential and he's a switch-hitter. He can hit anywhere in the lineup, which is another bonus. Plus he'll probably come cheap.
There's no reason for the Yankees to not look his way.
Probability of Cabrera Joining the Yankees: 50 Percent
Brandon McCarthy, RHP
Brandon McCarthy saved the Yankees from complete mediocrity in the second half of last season. The trade Brian Cashman made with the Arizona Diamondbacks in July seemed like a wash at the time, but it soon become apparent that McCarthy was quite the upgrade over Vidal Nuno.
The right-hander was stellar in pinstripes, posting a 7-5 record and 2.89 ERA in 90.1 innings (14 starts). He acted as the ace for much of the summer as Masahiro Tanaka was nursing an injury and the rotation was without CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.
The Yankees could reward him for his work with a new contract, but it really all depends on their pursuit of the offseason's bigger arms. Should the Yankees sign someone like James Shields or Jon Lester, they probably won't have room for McCarthy.
McCarthy is certainly the more cost-effective option, and he's already proven that he can handle the Bronx.
Given the low odds of signing a big-time ace, the odds of re-signing McCarthy to a multiyear contract are pretty high.
Probability That McCarthy Will Re-Join the Yankees: 75 Percent