As an old team with a lot of expiring contracts between now and 2014, the Yankees are going to become a vastly different team with a lot of new, and hopefully some young faces, in the years to come. Because of the same, the question is, what will the Yankees look like in the future.
Following the 2013 season, the Yankees only have 6 players under contract for a total commitment of $84.9m: Alex Rodriguez at $27.5 m (though the same could come off the books as will his bat off the field if the suspension hold); CC Sabathia at $24.4 m; Mark Teixeira at $22.5 m, Ichiro Suzuki at $6.5 m, Alfonso Soriano at $4m and Vernon Wells at $0m. Derek Jeter has $9.5 m option which I believe counts toward the cap if exercised since it is tied to an existent contract, thereby making the real cap figure $94.4 m. Beyond those guys, the following arbitration eligible players should be part of the Yankees as well: Brett Gardner; David Robertson; Shawn Kelley, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova. (Other arbitration eligibles -- Jayson Nix, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart are not certainties to be on the team.) Of the pre-arbitration eligibles, the most likely players to be on the Yankees in 2014 are: Zoilo Almonte (as a back up OFer), Dellin Betances (as a reliever who will be out of minor league options); David Phelps (as a back end starter or reliever); Eduardo Nunez (though I do not know why); Preston Claiborne (reliever); and Adam Warren (as a long reliever.) Considering the Yankees 2014 budget of $189 m, the Yankees, based on guaranteed contracts (for now I am counting Jeter's option), have about $94.6 m to play with. However, some of that money will go the arbitration eligibles and others to guys on the 40 man roster. Of those eligibles, the only guys like to make a decent dent on that figure is Brett Gardner. (Robertson will get a raise but nothing huge considering he has not been the closer.) That gives the Yankees 17 players (16 if you do not count ARod) on the 25 man roster and probably about $80 m to play with (or $107.5 m if ARod is suspended the whole year) considering eligibles and players on the 40 man roster. Either way, that is a good amount of money.Looking at the money available and needs, the question then becomes, who will fill out the rest of the Yankees roster.
For the infield, hopefully, Robinson Cano stays. However, not at any and all costs. He is 31 year old second basemen and the Yankees cannot make another ARod type contract mistake with Cano. If he stays, the Yankees and its fan base will all breathe easier. If not, the Yankees offense and defense will take a big hit. Should that happen, the Yankees might need to look at signing say a Kelly Johnson to fill the role though no one can fill those shoes. Those guys would make sense for the Yankees anyway for 3b or even as UT. The other option would be a trade though the Yankees prospects are not valued enough yet to get a fair deal. Assuming the Yankees do re-sign Cano, I figure the Yankees will add one of said guys or maybe then free agent Michael Young to play 3rd. However, to me, the smartest move to hedge against these issues, would be, regardless of what happens, sign Alexander Guerrero. While it is unclear whether he ultimately would play 2b, 3b or ss. The need will be there but not the player to fill all. Plus, he is expected to cost somewhere between $4m to $5m a year. Now the Yankees have 18 spots on the roster filled. Let's say Cano at 2b, Jeter at ss for one more year, K. Johnson or Young to start the season at 3b with Guerrero taking over after some seasoning in the minors. If no Guerrero, the Yankees should consider a trade for Mike Moustakas whose value is moderate from a trade perspective but who I believe would be a much better player for the Yankees than he has been with the Royals, a place where many players go to disappear. Other options could be Juan Francisco or Stefan Romero (via trades). At catcher, JR Murphy takes over at catcher while the Yankees part ways with Stewart and Cervelli and demote Romine. To help out Murphy, the Yankees sign Dionner Navarro. 20 spots now filled.
The rotation will, absent injury or regression will have CC, Pineda, Nova and maybe Phelps (if not in the bullpen.) Kuroda has been the real ace of the Yankees for the past two seasons and the Yankees need to give him a lucrative enough deal to keep him here. I am thinking $16m to $18m will get him re-signed. Considering that he is only going to be a one year signing, that this rotation is largely otherwise untrustworthy and that Jose Ramirez is not a surefire high end starter even if ready, another starter must be looked at. Since the idea of youth is desired, I like the idea of the Yankees considering Tanaka (I forget how to spell his full name.) His dominance in Japan has been similar to Darvish. The question is, does he project to be a high end starter akin to, even if not as good as, Darvish. Another good option could be Matt Garza. He is not an ace but he is a solid pitcher. So let's say, keep Kuroda and add either Garza or Tanaka. That is now 22 spots filled.
The outfield is an interesting situation. The Yankees have 4 outfielders locked into the team next year but only one in his prime (Gardner) and one who is hitting well (Soriano) though who is better off as a dh defensively. Though Wells is free, I believe he should be cut to give the Yankees more roster room and a more useful player. Meanwhile, someone should platoon with Ichiro. Nate Schierholz will be a free agent and should be that platoon guy. That still leaves 3 more roster spots open. What to do with Curtis Granderson? Had he had a health and good year, a qualifying offer almost certainly would have resulted in a team forfeiting a pick to sign him. Now, the same is uncertain. If I am the Yankees, I might try to instead sign him to a one year deal at say $10m next year, and let him earn his next contract. Then, Soriano becomes the primary dh and the OF has a solid defense. 2 spots left.
The bullpen as of now would be made up of Robertson, Claiborne, Warren, Phelps, Kelley. Betances will have to be added or traded, which leaves one spot though some of the relievers mentioned could be shuffled, meaning that with the 40 man roster, there is really more than one spot left, but for all intents and purposes, we are trying to figure out next year's primary team. For the last spot, I believe Mark Montgomery and/or Chase Whitley make the most sense.
No big albatross type contracts added. No draft picks forfeited. More time allowed for prospects to develop. Plenty of cap room left to make a move if needed without luxury tax issues.
So what do we have:
2014 best potential starting lineup:
1. Gardner, cf Jeter, ss, Cano, 2b, Teixeira, 1b, Granderson, lf, Soriano, dh, Guerrero/Moustakas/K. Johnson/Young, 3b, Murphy/Navarro, c, Ichiro/Schierholz, rf
2014 best potential rotation:
Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Tanaka/Garza, Nova
2014 best potential bullpen - see above.
What do you guys think.