Picking the Ideal Free Agent to Fill Each of the New York Yankees' Holes
Teams don't generally get a shot at signing all of their ideal targets, but the New York Yankees would have an unbelievable offseason if they could sign the players necessary to fill their biggest holes.
With Derek Jeter gone, the biggest hole on the team is obviously at shortstop. Brendan Ryan is the only veteran on the roster capable of handling the position, but a youngster like Jose Pirela could also feasibly handle shortstop.
Of course, the Yankees will likely look to the free-agent market to fulfill their need.
But what other holes does the team have? Take a look at the chart below for likely positions:
|Third Base||Alex Rodriguez, Zelous Wheeler|
|Lefty Specialist||David Huff|
|No. 4 Starter||David Phelps, Chase Whitley|
|Second Base||Jose Pirela, Martin Prado, Rob Refsnyder|
In regard to Martin Prado, his versatility will keep him in the lineup at various different positions. Given the questions surrounding Carlos Beltran in right field, he could feasibly find serious time out there. That would leave an opening for a nearly full-time second baseman.
Who should the Yankees target to fill these holes?
There are definitely options available.
Free agency only holds two viable options at shortstop for the Yankees. Hanley Ramirez and Stephen Drew are the most qualified to handle the position. Given Drew's struggles this year in pinstripes, though, Han-Ram is the better choice.
Ramirez has spoken about his willingness to play other positions during the life of his next contract. This certainly boosts his market value, as some don't see Ramirez as a longtime answer to their shortstop issues. His build and overall lack of range at the position make him a better fit at third or in a corner outfield position.
The Yankees should look to bring him on as a shortstop, though. They can always move him off the position a few years down the line. For now, their biggest need is for a bat who can also play short.
When healthy, Ramirez is one of the best-hitting middle infielders in the game. He can hit for a high average with decent power numbers, plus his .298 career batting average with runners in scoring position would be a welcome addition to a lineup that struggled to plate runners in crucial situations in 2014.
Fans might not like the defense Ramirez brings to the table, but his offensive potential far exceeds his defensive shortcomings. Don't cry about his defense as a reason to not sign him.
Crying about his injury history is an entirely different story.
Alex Rodriguez is currently slated to play third for the Yankees in 2015. Two bad hips and only 44 games played in the past two seasons means that he shouldn't be relied upon for full-time duty.
The team apparently isn't relying on him, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, citing an official who said, "Nobody here expects him to play third."
The Yankees must lock up Chase Headley as an insurance policy and super-utility player as a result.
General manager Brian Cashman and Headley have apparently already began talking about a new contract, so it might not be long before he's back in the Bronx. Given the thin market at third base, though, other teams could soon pick up the phone and make their sales pitches.
It's crucial for the Yankees to bring back Headley. He posted a .768 OPS with the team following his midseason trade from the San Diego Padres. He was a quality addition to the bottom third of the lineup, and his glove at the hot corner provided plenty of highlights.
This is a perfect match for both parties.
An array of left-handers filled the Yankees' left-handed specialist role this season.
Matt Thornton, Rich Hill and David Huff all contributed in some capacity. Thornton was effective before being dealt to the Washington Nationals in July, but there wasn't a dominant lefty in the pen for the crucial stretch of games in the second half.
There's one man on the open market who can fill the void, and then some. Andrew Miller dominated in 2014, posting a 2.02 ERA split between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. He would form quite the force at the back end of the Yankees bullpen (with or without David Robertson), and ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand thinks the team should make a run at him:
"It probably will take $7-8 million per year for three seasons to sign Miller. I would strongly consider it if I ran the Yankees. Paying relievers big money is a risky proposition, but the Yankees need to find a way to really improve over this past year—and this is a way to do it."
Miller is both a lefty specialist and setup man. He can go multiple innings, making him the perfect addition to any bullpen in the league. The market is going to be extensive for him, so the Yanks need to pony up and outbid a large number of teams.
But there's no debating the fact that he is a necessary expenditure.
No. 4 Starter
The Yankees need to add depth to their rotation.
CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova are injury risks. Michael Pineda brings with him questions of consistency. Shane Greene succeeded during his rookie campaign, but he could certainly fall victim to the sophomore slump. This makes the need for a reliable No. 4 starter even larger.
Luckily, the Yankees can simply re-sign one of their own.
Brandon McCarthy was a workhorse with the Yankees after coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in July, posting a 2.89 ERA over 90.1 innings. He struck out 82 and walked just 13 during his one-half stint with the club.
Now a free agent, McCarthy figures to draw a large group of suitors. He's one of the best middle-tier options after the likes of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields. After those big names are off the board, the competition for McCarthy will be fierce.
The Yankees can afford him, and the Yankees definitely need him. We'll just have to wait and see how high his price rises.
Versatility should be the name of the game this offseason.
Acquiring Chase Headley gives the Yankees a guy who can play multiple infield positions to free up the designated hitter role for Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
Martin Prado's ability to play multiple positions (second base and corner outfield) allows any of the outfielders (mostly Carlos Beltran) to see time at DH now and again.
Who's going to play second base when Prado moves somewhere else? Rob Refsnyder is an internal candidate, but Asdrubal Cabrera is an affordable option to man the position while providing decent offensive numbers.
Cabrera can also play shortstop, so if Hanley Ramirez happens to get hurt, then he can slide over.
Cabrera is a player who makes too much sense for the Yankees not to sign. He might be able to rekindle the spark that once allowed him to hit 25 home runs for the Cleveland Indians.