It's never too early to talk off-season moves here in Yankeeland, so I thought I would reference the list of potential free-agents-to-be upon completion of the 2007 MLB season.
Kudos to MLB Trade Rumors for compiling an updated list of the 2008 free-agent class. It's worth checking out.
More than a few Pinstripe Alley readers have suggested that the Yankees should let A-Rod walk next season and use that freed up cash for front-line starting pitching.
In theory, that doesn't sound like a bad idea except for one thing -- after Carlos Zambrano -- there are no starting pitchers on the market next off-season whom I'd be happy to fork over $15M+ the Yanks would be saving from A-Rod's potential departure.
My guess is that the bidding for Zambrano will start damn near $20M+ and it's certainly a possibility that the Cubs could sign him to a long-term deal before he has the opportunity to test the free-agent waters.
I tend to believe Cashman has learned his lesson in regards to buying 40+ yr old pitchers to help win them a championship (okay, except for Roger Clemens) -- so you can probably cross Curt "I Hate the Yankees" Schilling, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz from that list of possibilities as well.
Secondly, replacing A-Rod at Third Base with a solid player would be extremely difficult. Disregarding unforeseen trade possibilities, the only Third Basemen available on the market would be Mike Lowell, Mike Lamb, and Pedro Feliz. If these names aren't at least three damn good reasons to keep A-Rod beyond this season, I don't know what is.
Of course, Cashman's first missions at the end of the 2007 season will be to re-sign Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada -- and I expect both to happen (given that they stay healthy this season) so they can finish their careers in pinstripes. The Yanks could make a run at Ichiro Suzuki or Torii Hunter -- but I believe they will end up staying in Seattle and Minnesota respectively or find homes away from The Bronx.
I felt the need to address this specific topic about letting A-Rod walk in more detail given the passionate debate last week with 183 comments and illustrate the lack of options at the end of the 2007 season. Obviously, it's not that simple to replace the greatest talent of our generation with front-line starting pitching when the market will again be so very thin -- not to mention the other extremely difficult task of replacing him at Third Base with a solid player.
Personally, I would jump at the chance to let A-Rod walk if the Yanks were guaranteed to sign Zambrano. However, we all know that it doesn't work that way and the Yanks will likely be in a colossal dogfight with several other teams bidding for his services.
The next best option for the rotation would probably be Mark Buehrle but I've never been a fan of his and I certainly don't think he's worth the $15M+ they would save from A-Rod's deal.