Yankees Hot Stove: Winter meetings wrap-up

No really, shave those sideburns Levine! - Maddie Meyer

The Winter Meetings ended yesterday. The Yankees did nothing, but they took a stand on certain issues. For now.

Let's be perfectly honest here: after the crazy two weeks involving the signings of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury, as well as the loss of Robinson Cano, all taking place prior to the Winter Meetings, these past four days didn't seem like they were going to be all that exciting for the Yankees. All the huge free agent splashes had been made. The biggest free agent on the market is now Shin-Soo Choo, and he still has not signed with a team yet. Rumor has it that now the Houston Astros are looking into him. That's precious.

Oh, and the Yankees also traded away Chris Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a minor league pitcher named Kyle Haynes, which is as awesome as hearing James Earl Jones utter the words "totes mcgotes" on television. Expect GIFs of that in the game threads in 2014.

There wasn't much left for the Yankees to do during the Winter Meetings except see what major league spackle was available to fill the holes of their roster. With the loss of Robinson Cano, whose bearded face and Seattle hat wearing head made me sigh, the focus for the Yankees would now have to include second base in addition to starting pitching. The recent acquisitions of Beltran and Ellsbury made current Yankees outfielder and longtime Greg Kirkland "southern comfort" Brett Gardner the most attractive piece of trade bait for other teams. Despite only having one year left on his contract, many teams out there could very much use Gardner's services and could possibly see about extending him before he hits free agency in 2014. The Yankees could do that as well, but that's a discussion for another time.

Brian Cashman came out the first day saying that the Yankees were not interested in trading Brett Gardner. This usually translates to simply wanting to get the most value for him. Here we are four days later, and Brett Gardner is still wearing #11 for the Yankees. Not for lack of interest, though. As your beloved Pinstripe Alley scribes have reported, not only did the Yankees turn down a deal that would have sent Gardner to the Reds in exchange for Brandon Phillips, but there was a rumor of a three-way deal that would send Gardner to the Cleveland Indians, Justin Masterson from the Indians to the Diamondbacks, and Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks to the Yanks.

Only time will tell whether the Yankees keep Gardner or not. The combination of Gardner and Ellsbury in left and center field would be one of the best defensive outfields in the majors. However, the Yankees need starting pitching as well as more help in the infield. The Yankees could stick with Kelly Johnson at either third or second base for a time. Rumor has it that they do want Omar Infante, but only for three years. Desperation could make them give Infante the fourth year he wants. Regardless, they did not make any rash decisions during these Winter Meetings. Consider that a plus.

While keeping some pieces, the Yankees have also lost a couple. Joba Chamberlain has been signed by the Detroit Tigers to a one-year deal. Boone Logan is close to signing a three-year deal with the Colorado Rockies. While losing Joba doesn't seem like a loss, the combination of losing him plus Logan creates another hole the Yankees need to fill. Joaquin Benoit could help fill that hole, as the Yankees are reportedly interested in his services. Considering that three-year, $15 million deal that the Rockies reportedly offered Logan, Benoit's cost may soon go up. If the Yankees can still get him for two years and $7-$10 million, they might want to jump on that (though there are reports that both the Padres and Indians have offered him two-year, $14 million deals).

Overall, it's hard to describe this offseason as we come towards the end of the year. While the Yankees have made some questionable, head scratching decisions so far, it's hard to be terribly upset with them. Perhaps Ellsbury's contract was for too long and too much money, but he provides a definite value both defensively and offensively. That deal upsetting Red Sox fans is just an added bonus. Brian McCann provides a much needed improvement over Chris Stewart behind the plate. Then again, so could my Kindle Fire HD with a picture of a catcher's mitt on the screen. Carlos Beltran, while old, still shows signs of life and power--power that should excel with the short porch in right field. Even with the loss of Cano, these three bats already improve the lineup. Health will obviously be a factor.

The Winter Meetings were very kind to the Yankees and to Yankee fans. Despite the need, the Yankees did not make any rash trades or crazy signings, as well as got rid of a sizable chunk of dead weight. As Tanya so eloquently put it on Twitter:

Don't fool yourself into thinking that the Yankees would not be foolish enough to sign Joba or Stewart again. This organization once gave the verminous likes of Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre second chances, which is the equivalent of giving a McDonald's employee a second chance after using a slingshot to launch McNuggets into a child's head.

There is still room for improvement in the way they do business, though. The 2013 season made it painfully evident that our farm system is somewhat lacking and that relying on injury prone players does not always work. Rejecting a Brandon Phillips trade for $50 million over four years is a good start to refocusing their efforts. Not trying to match the Mariners' ten-year, $240 million offer was also promising. It could very well be a sign that they try to rely on youth in the coming future. There's still a lot more of the offseason left, though.

It's time to put 2013 behind us. Far, far, FAR behind us. Only eighteen more days left in the year. As a Yankee fan, all I can say without going into a profanity-laden tirade is good riddance. Perhaps I'll write a Goodnight Moon parody for this season before the year ends.

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