5 Dream Free-Agent Pickups for New York Yankees
You can't always get what you want, but the New York Yankees will do their darnedest this offseason to lock up some of their dream free-agent targets before other teams can get their hands on them.
General manager Brian Cashman has some work to do. His Bombers finished the 2014 season with an underwhelming record of 84-78. Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka, two of his key free-agent signings from last offseason, missed significant time with injuries. Brian McCann didn't get hot until July, and his start to the season was difficult to watch.
Jacoby Ellsbury was mostly what Cashman was looking for when he was signed last winter, but even he could bring some more consistency to the table next season.
For the most part, Cashman succeeded in signing his dream free agents just a year ago. Tanaka and McCann were high atop his list, while Beltran and Ellsbury became priorities when Robinson Cano spurned the team for the Seattle Mariners.
Will Cashman be successful in luring this year's top targets in? Only time will tell, of course. These are the guys who are likely high on his wish list as things stand right now.
1. Max Scherzer
The Yankees got their top pitching target last season, locking up international sensation Masahiro Tanaka to a massive deal to anchor the rotation. Given the question marks surrounding CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, it would be wise to target another ace this offseason.
Max Scherzer made a substantial long-term contract extension offer to the Detroit Tigers that would have placed him among the highest-paid pitchers in baseball, and the offer was rejected by Detroit. Max is very happy with the city of Detroit, the fans and his teammates, and we will continue negotiating with the Tigers at season's end.
Scherzer wants to get paid, and it appears as if Detroit doesn't want to pay him. After all, they're already committed long term to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. David Price is a free agent after 2015, and he will require a long-term deal as well.
Detroit has holes in the bullpen and at shortstop to address, so it could choose to let Scherzer walk and use that money elsewhere.
Scherzer is a perennial Cy Young candidate who can mow down hitters with his devastating changeup and slider. He's 30 years old and in his prime, meaning a six-year deal shouldn't be out of the question.
With Scherzer and Tanaka anchoring a rotation featuring high-upside guys like Pineda, the Yankees rotation would be up there in terms of league rankings.
2. Andrew Miller
The 29-year-old made $1.9 million last year and posted a 2.34 ERA in Beantown during the first half of the year. Then he was lights-out with Baltimore, posting a 1.35 ERA in the second half and allowing just one hit over 7.1 innings in the playoffs.
The Yankees could have an opening for late-inning relief. David Robertson is a free agent, and it remains uncertain if he'll be back. Jack Curry of the YES Network reported that the closer is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees, but whether he accepts it is anybody's guess.
He's going to make a lot of money either way, so the Yanks could let him walk and slide Dellin Betances into the role it appears he's ready for.
Miller would provide a dominant bridge to the closer. Should Robertson walk, Miller also provides manager Joe Girardi with an insurance policy just in case Betances struggles.
The bullpen was a great strength of the Yankees last season. Beefing up the strength would suffocate opposing lineups.
3. Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez is a shortstop until he makes the full-time transition to third base. He played 98 games at the hot corner in 2012, but that's the last (and only) time he has ever seen significant time there.
While he isn't the best defensive shortstop, Han-Ram can rake. He's a career .300 hitter and one of the best offensive shortstops of the past decade, making him a logical option as Derek Jeter's successor.
Think about it this way: If the Yankees wanted a shortstop who could field the position, they would roll with Brendan Ryan or re-sign Stephen Drew to handle the position next season. They aren't exactly threats with the bat.
Even with passable defense, Ramirez would be an extremely valuable addition. His offensive potential far exceeds his defensive shortcomings.
It seems like he has been around forever, but Ramirez is just 30 years old. A five-year contract certainly isn't out of the question, and he's a strong option to replace Jeter.
4. Jason Grilli
There were very few relievers who were more dominant than Jason Grilli from 2011 to 2013.
He rejuvenated his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, making an All-Star team in 2013 as a closer. It went downhill last season, as he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels and posted just decent numbers as a middle reliever.
Given his recent success, though, Grilli is a candidate to bounce back. He probably won't sign a multiyear deal, meaning the Yankees should be interested in a low-risk, high-reward union.
Grilli isn't a sexy pickup, but his ability to pitch in high-leverage situations should make him an attractive target for Brian Cashman. He was a major factor for the turnaround of the Pirates over the last few seasons, and his veteran know-how would aid a young bullpen.
A number of teams will likely show interest in Grilli, so it will be a matter of choice for the veteran.
5. Brandon McCarthy
Brandon McCarthy quickly became a fan favorite after the Yankees swapped Vidal Nuno for his services in July. He acted as an ace when the team so desperately needed one, and that should lead to a nice contract in the coming months.
Even if the pursuit of Max Scherzer or another top starter fails, McCarthy needs to be considered as a back-end arm. He can handle New York and can provide quality innings every start. As it stands now, Shane Greene would probably be the No. 5 starter. He was good last year, but McCarthy was better.
He's an affordable arm, however, and that means a number of teams will call him this winter.
It might turn into a small bidding war. A few million dollars shouldn't deter Brian Cashman, especially for a reliable arm.
It would truly be a dream offseason if Cashman can lure in an ace and McCarthy.