MLB Trade Rumors: 10 New York Yankees Moves to Hold Off the Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox effectively dominated the Winter Meetings, landing both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
Their lineup is loaded, and have a deep rotation looking to have a bounce-back year in 2011. The Yankees, meanwhile have stood steadfast, and have yet to make a significant move besides re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
With the AL East's balance of power currently shifted in Boston's favor, the Yankees will no doubt strike back, resuming baseball's Cold War. Here are 10 possible moves the Yankees can make to turn back the tide:
1. Sign Cliff Lee
Signing Cliff lee is not just necessary, but essential for the Yankees. Theo Epstein’s maneuverings at the winter meetings were nothing short of exceptional, as he landed the top two available offensive players in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
If Yankee GM Brian Cashman can’t answer back with a major move of his own, a la Lee, then the Yankees will have a substantial amount of egg on their faces.
The Yanks just went up to seven years, among several other offers for less years but a higher salary. Either way, the wooing of Lee is now a two-horse race between the Yankees and Texas Rangers.
Rumors broke earlier on ESPN Insider that put the Yankees and Rangers dead-even. So quest for Lee will come down to the wire.
2. Trade For Justin Upton
The Red Sox acquired a superstar corner outfielder in Carl Crawford, so the Yankees should answer back by acquiring one of their own.
Justin Upton is still somewhat available, and the Yankees have the major league trading chips to get a deal with Nick Swisher and Joba Chamberlain, who the Diamondbacks’ brass still likes. Sweeten the pot with some prospects, and the younger Upton could be in pinstripes.
Upton is young and one of the best all-around players in the game. His natural talent is comparable with Ken Griffey Jr, so losing out on a player like this would be a shame if he were even remotely available.
It could also upgrade a poor outfield that is probably the Yankees’ soft underbelly both offensively and defensively.
3. Trade For Zack Greinke
Trading for Greinke is unlikely but possible, as the Yankees have a ton of talent in their farm system. The Royals are perpetual sellers, so it is likely Greinke does get moved. It will probably take one of their elite catching prospects and some young pitching, but the deal is possible.
However, it is a gamble to bring Greinke to the bright lights of the Bronx. We all know of his past problems mentally, but he is 26 now, and possibly mature enough to handle New York.
His numbers against the AL East are admirable, with an ERA under 3.33 against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays over the last three seasons, so he should be able to handle pitching in the division if the pressure doesn’t get to him.
4. Trade For Francisco Liriano
Believe it or not, the Yankees have inquired about Liriano, and if the asking price is cheaper than Greinke’s he might be worth acquiring. He still has great stuff, and like Greinke, is only 26.
However, his numbers against the AL East is not as impressive as Greinke’s. Still, an elite talent such as Liriano’s is worth snagging if the opportunity is there.
Expect the haul to gut the Yankee farm system, but the catching prospects might not be needed, as the Twins already have future Hall of Fame catcher Joe Mauer.
5. Sign Russell Martin
Several teams are interested in Russell Martin’s services this season, and the Yankees came close to pulling the trigger on a Francisco Cervelli/Russell Martin swap before Martin was not tendered a couple of weeks ago.
Before getting into Joe Torre’s doghouse, Martin was one of the game’s premier young catchers. His blend of skills offensively made him one of the best catchers in the game.
He may be criticized for being unable to call a game, but Yankee manager Joe Girardi was great at game calling in his playing days, which could rub off on Martin.
Martin also played third base when not catching, so he could also spell Alex Rodriguez during the season when the veteran needs a break.
With so many suitors for Martin, it could be difficult to convince him to agree to a one-year pact. He’s only 27, but the Yankees need more of a stopgap to prepare for Jesus Montero’s ascension in the coming years.
6. Sign Rafael Soriano
Rafael Soriano is a dominant right-handed reliever who could give the Yankees a huge boost in the eighth inning.
Over the course of his career, Soriano has been dominant at times, and really seems to have hit his stride over the last couple of seasons.
Currently, he is looking for a closing job with a team, but setting up for Mariano Rivera is pretty much like being a closer on any other team.
The Yankees could also beat any other offer Soriano receives. It would take two or three years to sign Soriano, but it would be worth it.
7. Re-Sign Kerry Wood
Wood looked brilliant at times with the Yankees last season, but at other times looked awful. The Yankees declined his option, but could be tempted to bring him back to sure up the bullpen.
He may not be better than Soriano, but he has the raw stuff that can get any hitter out when he’s right.
Re-signing Wood looks like the Yankees’ obvious move to help Mariano Rivera and co. have a good bullpen in 2011. However, it will not be enough to be productive.
8. Sign Brian Fuentes
Fuentes would be an under-the-radar signing for the Yankees, but he could help the Yankees immensely. The Yanks have had a shortage of lefties in their bullpen over the last few years.
If the Yankees signed him, Fuentes would be great out of the pen to get lefties out, or to go for an inning or two in the middle innings.
The Yankees are thinking about acquiring his services, and if they can sign him for the seventh inning role, it would be one of the better signings of the offseason.
Combine Fuentes in the seventh, with either Wood or Soriano in the eighth, and Rivera in the ninth and you have the best bullpen in baseball.
9. Sign Bill Hall
Five years ago, Bill Hall was one of the best young players in the game. Many thought he was going to be a superstar for years, but his play eroded.
However, Hall could serve a purpose for the Yankees to the tune of something they need: depth off the bench, and the possibility of a platoon in left field with Brett Gardner.
Gardner looks good at times, but seems over-matched against great pitching. Hall could thrive in New York as a super-utility player, but could also play semi-regularly in the corner outfield slots.
He’s 30, and would command a cheap, one-year deal that’s low risk and high reward. Cashman should take a shot on Hall.
10. Re-Sign Andy Pettitte
If Andy Pettitte decides to play in 2011, the Yankees will be sure to sign him. However, it is not a given that he will play in 2011.
Pettitte has hinted he will retire for the last year now, so it may take a pitch from the Yankees brass, along with a few of the aforementioned signings or trades to make it worth Pettitte’s while to play another season
That being said, he would be an inexpensive signing, and add depth to a rotation that desperately needs it. Pettitte is one of the best postseason pitchers in the history of the game, with big game experience that can’t be bought elsewhere.
Pettitte will probably return, but don’t expect him to commit to playing next year for at least a month.
While the Yankees are still a strong team, they need to make some moves to survive the course of a 162-game division race, and 18 head-to-head games against Boston.
Conservatively, the Yankees need to make half of these moves to stay the Sawx. They need to acquire at least two starters, one of the three bats, and two of the three relievers. If they can better five moves, including somehow snagging Upton, the Yankees will have absolutely out-maneuvered Boston.
With the hot stove heating up, only time will tell who will come out on top over the winter, and more importantly, in October.