Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the New York Yankees

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2015

Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the New York Yankees

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    After two years away, the New York Yankees made their triumphant return to playoff baseball only to be shut out by Houston's Dallas Keuchel, losing 3-0 to the upstart Astros in front of a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium.

    It's a disappointing end for a team that led its division for much of the regular season but struggled down the stretch. Changes are certainly going to be made between now and Opening Day 2016, though to what extent won't be known for at least another month or two.

    What follows is an overview of some of the decisions the team is going to have to make—and some of the players they may look to in order to bolster the roster.

Payroll Breakdown

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Thoughts of New York having an Opening Day payroll under $200 million in 2016 are nothing more than a dream. With roughly $183 million committed to 10 players—including $3 million for Martin Prado to play in Miami—it's all but a lock the club will eclipse the $200 million mark in filling out its roster.

    But the team will be shedding significant payroll after the 2016 season.

    Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will no longer be under contract, clearing just over $38 million from the books, and there's an outside chance CC Sabathia's $25 million 2017 option won't vest, allowing the team to pay a $5 million buyout.

    Will that have any impact on how the team attacks the upcoming free-agent market? Or will Brian Cashman and Co. only be concerned with the team's 2016 payroll?

Arbitration-Eligible Players

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    Didi Gregorius took a big step in his development over the season's second half.
    Didi Gregorius took a big step in his development over the season's second half.Associated Press

    Players Headed for Arbitration (2015 salary)

    • IF/OF Dustin Ackley ($2.6 million)
    • RHP Nathan Eovaldi ($3.3 million)
    • SS Didi Gregorius ($553,900)
    • RHP Ivan Nova ($3.3 million)
    • RHP Michael Pineda ($2.1 million)
    • C Austin Romine ($554,100)
    • RHP Sergio Santos ($507,500)
    • RHP Adam Warren ($572,600)
    • LHP Justin Wilson ($556,000)

    Injuries and inconsistency have the Yankees cautiously optimistic Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda will be long-term fixtures in the rotation, But neither one did enough to warrant a multiyear extension, leaving the pair to take one-year deals valued at $5.5 million and $4.5 million, respectively.

    Inconsistency on Ivan Nova's part was to be expected as he returns from Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees have too much invested in his development to not find out what he can do in 2016, when he'll be nearly two years removed from surgery. A modest $500,000 raise awaits the soon-to-be 29-year-old.

    Adam Warren and Justin Wilson will crack the $1 million salary plateau for the first time, as both have proved themselves to be important pieces in an excellent Yankees bullpen. Warren winds up at $1.5 million, Wilson at $1.2 million.

    If there's one arbitration-eligible player the Yankees may look to lock up with a long-term deal, it's Didi Gregorius. The 25-year-old became more comfortable at the plate and in the field as the season wore on, hitting .294 with a .762 OPS after the All-Star break while providing above-average defense at shortstop.

    The Yankees wind up buying out Gregorius' four arbitration-eligible seasons with a four-year, $13.5 million extension.

New York's Own Free Agents and Players with Options

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    Chris Young isn't a lock to return to the Bronx.
    Chris Young isn't a lock to return to the Bronx.Associated Press

    Potential Free Agents

    • LHP Chris Capuano
    • IF Stephen Drew
    • IF Brendan Ryan ($1 million player option/$2 million team option)
    • OF Chris Young

    It'd be a stretch to say the Yankees had to re-sign any of their own free agents, and I'm not sure they actually will. Both Chris Capuano and Stephen Drew are gone, and the team has younger, less expensive options to replace Brendan Ryan and Chris Young if they want to.

    Jose Pirela could feasibly handle things as the team's utility infielder, and he comes without Ryan's recent injury woes, while Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams could replace Young as the primary fourth outfielder.

    But it'd be surprising for the Yankees to not keep a few experienced players on the bench, and neither Ryan nor Young is going to cost the team much to retain. They'll both be back in 2016.

Potential Free-Agent Targets

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    With the bulk of the current roster under contract and an organizational desire to get younger, more athletic and less expensive, the Yankees could once again be only bit players on the free-agent market.

    But we can never really count the Yankees out of the running for anyone until they've signed elsewhere. With reinforcements needed in both the bullpen and rotation as well as an unsettled situation at second base (does the team believe Robert Refsnyder is the answer?), the Yankees could just as easily become a major factor on the open market.

    Here are some of the names the Yankees could be linked to once free agency begins:

    • Howie Kendrick, 2B: As consistent a second baseman as you can find, Kendrick would stabilize a position that has been in flux since Robinson Cano's departure. Would probably require a three- to four-year deal to sign. Yanks may not want to make that kind of commitment.
    • David Price, LHP: Probably a stretch given the team's aversion to signing pitchers on the wrong side of 30, but Price is among the game's elite starters and would elevate the rotation to another level. Yankees are one of the few teams that could afford him.
    • Jeff Samardzija, LHP: Samardzija struggled with the White Sox but has a track record of success and less wear and tear on his arm than other free-agent starters. Won't cost nearly as much as other top options due to his late-season fade.
    • Joakim Soria, RHP: The Yankees tried to add another power reliever to the Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller combination in the bullpen at the trade deadline. Soria fits that description and won't cost young talent to obtain. Whether he'd accept a non-closing role is unknown.
    • Ben Zobrist, IF/OF: He'll be entering his age-35 season, but Zobrist remains highly productive and effective at multiple positions. Would be brought in to play second base primarily.

Potential Trade Targets

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    The Yankees won't trade the likes of Greg Bird, Aaron Judge or Luis Severino, but they still have enough quality prospects in the system to facilitate a trade should a name become available they absolutely must have.

    Keep in mind there's no indication any of the players listed below are readily available...yet. But once the playoffs are over and the offseason kicks into high gear, they could be.

    • Craig Kimbrel, RHP, San Diego PadresThe Yankees tried and failed to pry Kimbrel away from the Padres at the trade deadline but could re-engage San Diego if the club decides to make him available once again this winter.
    • Martin Prado, IF/OF, Miami MarlinsMiami passed on the chance to move Prado at the trade deadline, but the Yankees would certainly be interested if they change their mind this winter. His versatility, coupled with the fact the Yankees are paying $3 million of his salary, make him a fit.
    • C.J. Wilson, LHP, Los Angeles AngelsA risk seeing as how he's coming off season-ending elbow surgery, the Angels were motivated to move Wilson before the injury, and he could be a buy-low option. Has solid career numbers in the Bronx (3.16 ERA, 1.27 WHIP over 51.1 IP).

    Unless otherwise noted/linked, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs; all payroll and salary information courtesy of Cot's Contracts.

    Want to talk Yankees' offseason plans or anything baseball related? Hit me up on Twitter: @RickWeinerBR

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