MADISON, December 7, 2013 — With the departure of Robinson Cano to Seattle for a ten year, $240 million contract, the New York Yankees, according to David Ortiz, have lost the “face of their ball club.” This will not prevent the Yankees from attempting to win their 28th World Series title, and they have made signings that show they are, as always, in a win now mode.
This offseason has seen Cano, Phillip Hughes and Curtis Granderson depart for a total of $322 million dollars. While Granderson and Hughes did not contribute much last year due to injuries and ineffectiveness, the Yankees are still seeing the departure of 8.0 WAR with those three players. While the Yankees’ 85-77 record in 2013 was their worst since 1992, perhaps they outperformed what they should have done as they had a Pythagorean record of 79-83.
Based on their activity so far it appears the Yankees will not take these departures lying down. The Yankees have re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $16 million deal, Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract, Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 contract, Kelly Johnson to a one-year, $3 million deal, and Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal. The four new acquisitions were all productive last year, combining for 11.7 WAR, but there are concerns.
Two of those concerns are closely tied together. First, the Yankees are old. Their projected starting lineup has an average age of 34.38 for the players we know and will only increase if Alex Rodriguez is included. Older players tend to get injured more, as we saw with the Yankees last year, and while the outfield depth is a bit better with the ability to bring Brett Gardner off the bench, there are still concerns about the overall depth.
Another issue is that the Yankees have yet to address their rotation. As of today, the Yankee rotation would be CC Sabbathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and David Phelps, which does not exactly strike fear into the rest of baseball. The Yankees are expected to be in the mix to sign Masahiro Tanaka if he is posted, but whether or not he is posted is in question thanks to the new posting rules agreement. If he is not posted, or the Yankees fail to land him if he is posted, they will need to look elsewhere.
The Yankees also do not likely have the prospects to land a pitcher like David Price in the trade market, which means New York will be forced to look at other free agent pitchers from a pool that includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza. Even though each of these pitchers had good to very good years in 2013, they also offer plenty of questions.
Finally, there is no Mariano Rivera at the backend of the bullpen in 2014. David Robertson has been great in the setup role for the last three years, but there will be questions about his ability to close until he proves he can do it effectively.
The Yankees are likely not done with their roster and could make a variety of moves, either upgrading their rotation or looking to supplement their position players. They could sign Stephen Drew and move Derek Jeter to third or sign Shin-Soo Choo and trade Brett Gardner. Regardless of the direction they choose, they will likely continue to make headlines during and after the Winter Meetings.
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