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Yankees organizational impact of bringing back Chase Headley

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How does re-signing Chase Headley affect the Yankee payroll and roster construction

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After letting a couple of their own free agents leave this offseason, the New York Yankees have brought one back. Lets take a look at some of the ways re-signing Chase Headley has impacted the organization.

Financial Impact

At $52 million for the next 4 seasons, Chase Headley has been signed for $13 million a year through the end of the 2018 season. New York's payroll for 2015 was at around $179.5 million for 13 players, the Headley signing pushes that figure to $192.5 million. Including arbitration estimates and minimum salaries to round out the roster, the projected payroll for next season is now up to around $206 million.

Headley can earn up to an extra $1 million in each year, through making an additional $250,000 for reaching each of 475, 500, 525 and 550 plate appearances. This pushes the maximum value of the contract to $56 million if Headley plays a full season in each of the four years.

I may be flogging a dead horse here, but the luxury tax line is firmly in the rear view mirror at this point. It's also unlikely to come into play in the near future, unless the next Collective Bargaining Agreement - due after the 2016 season - completely alters the current financial landscape. With the Headley signing the Yankees have around $97 million guaranteed to just 6 players in 2018.

Roster and Farm Impact

Headley becomes the 38th member of the Yankee 40 man roster, which means Brian Cashman retains the flexibility to add a couple more players without having to start sending Yankees to the waiver wire. As Jason covered yesterday, Headley being brought in as the starting third baseman greatly increasing the flexibility within the roster, largely due to the versatility of Martin Prado.

The below is a projection of the 2015 position player depth chart, assuming a 12-man pitching staff.

Current Projection - 2015 Yankee Position Players
  • Catcher
  • Brian McCann
  • John Ryan Murphy
  • First Base
  • Mark Teixeira
  • Chase Headley
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Second Base
  • Martin Prado
  • Jose Pirela
  • Third Base
  • Chase Headley
  • Martin Prado
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Shortstop
  • Didi Gregorius
  • Brendan Ryan
  • Left Field
  • Brett Gardner
  • Martin Prado
  • Chris Young
  • Center Field
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Brett Gardner
  • Right Field
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Martin Prado
  • Chris Young
  • Designated Hitter
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Carlos Beltran

10 of the 13 position players above carry guaranteed contracts into 2015, with Gregorius locked into being number 11. The 12th spot will be reserved for a backup catcher. With Prado likely to open the season as the regular second baseman, Robert Refsnyder can continue to work on his defense while playing every day in Triple-A with Jose Pirela able to serve in a utility role in the Bronx, taking up the final roster spot. Adding Pirela to the mix effectively puts the Yankees four-deep on the depth chart at first base, third base and both corner outfield spots; impressive depth for a team that hasn't had much positional cover for injuries in recent years.

Refsnyder can still earn a major league callup in 2015. Should any of Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley or indeed Martin Prado miss time next season, the ensuing roster reshuffle could easily open up the every day second base job for Refsnyder to seize. An injury to Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury could also open up second base for Refsnyder; essentially if he continues to perform well at Scranton a spot with the Yankees will likely become available to him in the upcoming season.

Free Agency Impact

Adding Chase Headley may not necessarily be the final move in free agency for Brian Cashman this offseason. The position player depth is largely rounded out, and the Yankees have significant depth in the bullpen, however New York could certainly use starting pitching. Two of the five rotation spots are currently projected to be filled through internal competition, and all candidates come with question marks.

Considering the spending commitment, both in payroll and in luxury tax, that the Yankees have made with the Andrew Miller and Chase Headley signings, the New York Yankees organization should carry expectations of making the postseason. Without strengthening the pitching staff these expectations will be more of a challenge to realise. This may not necessarily push the Yankees to sign Max Scherzer but Brian Cashman may well choose to bring in another veteran starter.