The Yankees can see the finish line on a number of long and expensive deals that have worked out with varying degrees of success. Lots of fans clamor for the team to move these bad deals all the time, dreaming of a team to come along and bail the Yankees out the way the Dodgers did for the Red Sox a few years ago. Deals like that aren't commonplace, though, and expecting the Yankees to be able to shed undesirable contracts is usually a pipe dream. If a team did come along, however, wanting to rid the Yankees of one (and only one) of their contracts gone wrong, which player would you choose to move?
Alex Rodriguez - The 40-year-old DH carried the team for most of the season before struggling in August and September. Maybe that's due to fatigue from playing a whole season for the first time in a couple years or just a general breaking down of an older body trying to exert itself more than it is capable. Rodriguez's value to the 2015 Yankees is unquestionable, but his deal is still a massive one. He and the team seem to have repaired their icy relationship at least to some degree, and Rodriguez was vital (or so we hear) in straightening out Didi Gregorius' season at shortstop. However, the Yankees would probably love to free up the DH spot to get Carlos Beltran out of the outfield and to rest Mark Teixeria, which would open a door for Greg Bird. The DH logjam is a serious problem, but Rodriguez represents one of the only right-handed bats the team has for the immediate future. Naming his the contract the team would be best off without at this time last year might be a no-brainer, but is that still the case?
CC Sabathia - The former ace pitched like a shell of himself for most of the season before finding some success in the form of a knee brace that seemed to cure most of what ailed him. Sabathia's degenerative knee condition is only going to get worse, and his contract has a vesting option that has no protection for anything except an injured shoulder. Making north of $20 million per season and turning right-handed batters into Mike Trout is not the recipe for success, but would the team really consider moving Sabathia to the bullpen to be the league's most expensive LOOGY? Is what he did at the end of the season encouraging enough to feel comfortable moving forward in 2016 and beyond with him in the rotation knowing that there are a multitude of good starting options on the free agent market that would almost certainly produce more value? Getting out from under two more seasons of Sabathia could benefit the team, but does his value as a clubhouse leader keep him from being the player you'd most like the team to part ways with?
Jacoby Ellsbury - This is a deal that doesn't look great early on, which could be bad news with so many years left. Ellsbury played like an MVP before an injury took him out of the lineup. He never really played the same after his return, and his inability to hit for average or power really stood out at the top of the order. Could there have been some lingering pain there that he was trying to play through that cost him some performance? The team is probably hoping for that to be the case. Ellsbury is under contract for a long time, and having the deal already turn sour would be pretty disastrous. Removing Ellsbury from the roster would remove some fantastic outfield defense, but it would free up a spot for a free agent outfielder or perhaps Aaron Judge at some point in 2016. The team has a leadoff type in Brett Gardner, so they wouldn't be hurting for that. Still, if the team can get the Ellsbury they saw at the beginning of the season back, that guy is a huge asset to the offense. Giving him away might make sense from a purely financial standpoint, but the guy was playing terrifically before the injury. Would banking on him not returning to that caliber of player again be the smart move?
Mark Teixeira - 2015 Teixeira was a revelation after a couple subpar years, but an unfortunate injury cost him some significant time down the stretch. Greg Bird stepped in and performed as well as anyone could have expected the rookie to do, but Teixeira's return almost certainly means that there is no room for Bird on 2016's Opening Day roster. There's only one more year on Teixeira's deal, making it the one with the least amount of impact going forward, and if he is still the MVP-type player he was in 2015 then giving away a year of that would be foolish. However, the team has a desire to get younger that Bird would help them accomplish. Teixeira has battled his share of injuries the last few seasons, even though some have been fluky, and he may not perform the way he did in 2015 again just due to being a year older and the unexpected nature of his comeback. Would the team be better off banking on youth than their veteran in 2016?
Brian McCann - The Yankees' catcher struggled in his first season in New York before turning it on in the second half of last year and really keeping it going into 2015. He slowed down the stretch, possibly from fatigue, but he does block the Yankees from using either John Ryan Murphy or Gary Sanchez as a starter for the remainder of his contract. His pitch framing is great but his other defensive skills seemed a bit lackluster in 2015. Sanchez had a breakout season in 2015 on the farm and Murphy has proven that he is one of the best backup catchers in baseball, and probably could handle being the starter if necessary. Would the team part with McCann and his contract if it meant being able to hand over the pitching staff to Sanchez and/or Murphy, or are they better off sticking with what they have behind the plate?
These are certainly not all the names the Yankees would potentially like to get rid of if a team was willing to unburden them for whatever reason. There have already been rumblings that the team might part with Brett Gardner via trade this offseason. Chase Headley failed to really impress in the first year of his deal, particularly because of his adventures in throwing the ball cleanly to other bases. Carlos Beltran shouldn't be a right fielder at this stage of his career, but his bat in the second half was actually very good for the Yankees. Moving another deal so that he could be the DH in this fantasy scenario might make his deal more palatable.
Which deal would you choose to get rid of first? Vote in the poll below.