The Yankees have had an eventful offseason. As fans, we've seen the likes of Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and a host of other players leave for a variety of reasons. In order to replace the production lost, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran have been brought into the fold while Hiroki Kuroda was retained. Seemingly, the team is not finished.
While the additions have been flashy and exciting, question marks remain aplenty across the roster. Who will play second base? Third base? Where are the other 200 innings Cashman discussed adding to the rotation coming from? Who will fill out the bullpen?
These questions are difficult to answer, mostly because fans are unsure if Plan $189M is still in effect. If this plan has gone by the wayside, we should expect the Yankees to be all in on Masahiro Tanaka, as well as more expensive options at second base, third base, and the bullpen. However, if Plan $189M is still on Cashman's mind, what does he have left to spend, and can he field a competitive team? Is there enough space for an impact arm like Tanaka? Let's take a look.
The main caveat here: If Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season, this goal becomes a possibility, despite the creativity needed to meet it. If he is not, then this post is entirely useless, as was the goal in the first place, because his $27.5M tax hit would be impossible to work around.
As currently constructed, here is a projected roster (sans Rodriguez), complete with luxury tax hits for each player.
Some tidbits here:
- The Jeter contract situation is weird. Despite his new deal, a 1 year, $12M pact, his luxury tax hit adds another $810K. You can read more about it at MLBTR.
- Alfonso Soriano is due $17M this season. However, $14M of that has been generously paid by the Chicago Cubs. Any positive impact Soriano provides will bring the Yankees value due to Chicago eating over 82% of the money owed to him.
- The $4M attributed to Brett Gardner, and the $1M to Cervelli, are estimates. This is courtesy of MLBTR and their arbitration projections.
- I didn't include Vernon Wells because (A) I expect him to be DFA'd and (B) he has a zero luxury tax hit for 2014 anyway.
Some more tidbits:
- The salary projections for Nova, Kelley and Robertson are also courtesy of MLBTR arbitration projections.
- Totally unrelated, but CC making $24.4M is looking ugly.
- The question mark next to Tanaka's name is, well, a huge question mark. Now that Japan and MLB have agreed upon a new posting system that maxes out at a $20M bid, Tanaka will essentially be treated as if he's a free agent. This will only drive his price up. It was already assumed he'd receive a larger contract than Darvish did a few years ago. Now that there will be multiple teams vying for his services in a more traditional free agency setting, contract terms could be interesting and nearly impossible to predict.
- This bullpen is thin. Someone from this group, other than Robertson, will need to step up in order for the pen to have a positive impact.
In looking at the roster, the Yankees have already committed a minimum of $161.867M to 22 positions. I say minimum because the bullpen will probably not look as it is currently constructed on Opening Day, which will only bring the group's luxury tax hit higher if another arm or two are added. Further, we need to add another ~$11M to this total in order to account for player benefit packages, which bring us to $172.867M. Add another few million to account for 40-man roster salaries, and we're at around $175-176M or so.
Call it $176M just to make it a little more difficult.
If this is what we're looking at, and I'm pretty sure this is correct because I trust Cot's and MLBTR, the Yankees have about $13M to spend on three more positions. This almost certainly removes the Yankees from Tanaka contention if Plan $189M is still in play. If they were to sign him, they'd need to get him at a maximum of $12M per season, while filling out second and third base with players making the major league minimum. They could also play Kelly Johnson full time at second or third base, and use organizational depth, possibly Corban Joseph, as a bench player instead. Maybe even Brendan Ryan becomes the full time second baseman and Johnson takes over full time at third, meaning the Yankees would need two bench players making the league minimum. This is pure rosterbation and it could go in a million directions.
As currently constructed, the top 6 or 7 in the lineup will be competitive if healthy. Some combination of Gardner, Jeter, Ellsbury, Beltran, Teixeira, McCann, and Soriano is among the best offensive groups in baseball. There is no doubt about that in my mind. I am far more skeptical about the rotation. Sabathia had a rough 2013. Kuroda faded heavily down the stretch and is aging. Nova has been wildly inconsistent throughout his short career. Further, there's no telling what Pineda can provide, or if he'll even win the battle for the fifth starter. Finally, there are still another 200 innings to be added to the staff.
With $13M left to spend, Plan $189M seems to be in full effect, and even realistic. I'm not sure how competitive this team will be while 200 innings are missing from the rotation and two spots have yet to be filled in the lineup, but so far, this is a competitive roster that has a few holes left to fill. And that's okay, it's still December.
What do you think about the roster as currently constructed, and what would you like to see the Yankees do with the remaining $13M if Plan $189M is the ultimate goal of the offseason?