We're on the verge of free agent open season, so MLB Trade Rumors released their predictions for the top 50 free agents on the market. The Yankees came away with a few interesting signings and let a few others go.
Tim Dierkes believes that the Yankees will retain No. 1 free agent Robinson Cano. He doesn't think the All-Star second baseman will reach the $300 million he asked for, especially with the Dodgers out of the running, but he could eclipse $200 million. Cano hit .314/.383/.516 with 27 home runs this season and has accumulated the second most WAR (25.4) since 2010, behind only Miguel Cabrera.
The Yankees are also predicted to sign Ervin Santana, the No. 6 free agent on the market and top pitcher, behind only Masahiro Tanaka. MLBTR predicted that, though teams will be hesitant to give up a draft pick for him, Santana, 31 in December, will receive a five-year, $75 million contract. Santana may have rebounded from his terrible 2012 season, posting a 3.24 ERA and 3.93 FIP in 200+ innings, but he's home run prone (1.22 HR/FB), so it wouldn't be a good fit for either side.
Hiroki Kuroda, the No. 8 free agent, will stay with the Yankees on the $14.1 million qualifying offer. The Yankees want him back and no one will likely want to give up a draft pick for him, so if he doesn't retire, he'll be back in the Bronx. Kuroda has been a top 20 pitcher with 7.5 WAR over the last two seasons. He is also among the top 10 in innings pitched, so he will bring durability, despite being 39 next season.
MLBTR thinks that this could finally be the year that Carlos Beltran becomes a Yankee. He's been interested for so long and with a lack of a strong outfield, the Yankees could say yes to a two-year deal. Despite his age, Beltran has been a top 10 offensive outfielder over the last two seasons with a 129 wRC+. The added benefit of the DH could help him remain healthy, even though he's been fine since leaving the Mets.
With Mariano Rivera now gone, the Yankees will have to fill their bullpen with some proven free agent talent if they want to ensure future success. David Robertson could step in as closer, but then the Yankees would have to find a setup man, and with a crowded closer market, MLBTR says that Grant Balfour could end up on the Yankees. Over the last two years he's been top 30 in WAR (2.1) and top 20 among closers, so he isn't one of the elite ones. He might have to settle for the eighth inning, wherever he ends up going.
MLBTR thinks that the Yankees will sign A.J. Pierzynski after they balk at the multi-year deal requirements for Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. As expected, Pierzynski fell back down to earth after a career year in 2012, considering he's been a below average offensive catcher over the last 15 seasons. His 90 wRC+ was one of the worst among qualified catchers and his career -23 DRS makes him look completely wrong for the Yankees on every front.
Dierkes also predicts that Curtis Granderson will ultimately sign with the Mets and Phil Hughes with the Padres. The Yankees will lose out on Tanaka to the Dodgers and Jacoby Ellsbury will sign with the Mariners, Stephen Drew with the Mets, McCann with the Rangers, and Shin-Soo Choo with the Tigers.