It sounds silly that we could be into spring training, after spending nearly $500 million in the offseason, and still Yankee fans are baffled as to why the team isn't signing anyone else. While they added Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann as big ticket items, they also lost Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera at the same time. It sounds like typical Yankees fan spoilage for me to complain about the team's lack of spending after they already outspent entire payrolls in a matter of months, but I feel it's reckless to go overboard in one area, but completely neglect another.
There have been plenty of options out there that wouldn't exactly require a large commitment, but for some reason the Yankees feel they have a complete team. Unfortunately, Brian Roberts will get hurt at some point, and while Kelly Johnson might be a solid option, he has no legitimate platoon partner unless you feel confident that Scott Sizemore will go a season without tearing his ACL. Even then, how good are those options?
I don't blame them not wanting to spend money on the bullpen, but then again, who exactly do the Yankees have to guarantee it as a strength? There seems to be no hint of a potential trade for a reliever, but it seems silly that they plan to go into the season with David Robertson as the only clearly reliable piece there. You have Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne, who had very good first halves. There's Matt Thornton, who seems to be trending downhill, and then there's the likes of Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and company, who might at least be usable.
If you're going to have weaknesses, it's a common strategy to strengthen one area to make up for another. The Yankees clearly did this with their outfield, but could too much compensation in one area leave them with too little in another?
Aside from Scott Sizemore and Russ Canzler, none of the Non-Roster Invitees the Yankees brought in for infield depth have any major league experience. This isn't exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel, this is turning over the barrel and peeling off the slime underneath. These aren't real options, so while it still makes sense for them to not spend big on whoever is left, it doesn't make sense that they don't want to spend a minimal price for better options.
While he's not very good, Emilio Bonifacio likely represented an improvement over the likes of Zelous Wheeler and Yangervis Solarte. At least Bonifacio can steal some bases and play everywhere on the field. The Yankees weren't interested in the 28-year-old, but now that he's signed a minor league deal with the Cubs, I have to ask why they weren't. That sounds like a reasonable price for a potential major-league option.
Then there's Stephen Drew. No one seems to want to sign him, despite a productive year and his ability to play a premium position. Now that we know Derek Jeter is retiring, securing Drew as just another option at short for 2014, and a potential replacement after that makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. He's even suggesting that he would take a contract with a one-year opt-out clause, which might not be so bad either. Pay him a moderate amount of money and if he's good, you get the one year and he goes. It sounds like the risk is pretty minimal. Obviously, no one wants to give up a draft pick for him, but what is a second-round pick even worth to the Yankees at this point? Surely, the No. 56 pick is worth at least one year of Stephen Drew, no?
Aledmys Diaz, the Cuban defector, will finally be signing with a team soon. He recently had a showcase where Yankee scouts were in attendance, but are they really interested? The Dodgers recently signed Alex Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million contract, and while there has been talk that the Yankees plan to spend big in the international arena, a $7 million AAV contract is not what they're interested in. Probably not even $5 million. If they do spend their hearts out, it will be on young amateur talent over the summer, not someone like Diaz, who would cost a major league deal. If you think Diaz might be the answer the Yankees are looking for, you might want to lower expectations so you're not surprised when he signs elsewhere.
Despite the Yankees' clear needs, it doesn't look like they plan to do anything about it. They got their big ticket items and now they're going to hope that somehow Brian Roberts defies the last five years of his career and is actually usable after April. It sounds funny and a little weird that we're talking of such things, even with Tanaka on board, but that's the nature of the Yankees right now: All-Star or bust.
I don't expect the Yankees to spend anymore this offseason, and you shouldn't either. We just have to hope that Derek Jeter is healthy, Mark Teixeira is healthy, Carlos Beltran is healthy, CC Sabathia is good again, Brian McCann is healthy, and Brett Gardner is healthy. I think you get the picture. Every team deals with risk, but it sure would be nice to have a few more legitimate options just in case. The Yankees are good on paper and they're going to be good in 2014, but they're still going to need a lot to go right if they want to make the playoffs.
- Who will platoon with Kelly Johnson at third base this season?
- Handicapping the Yankees bullpen competition
- Yankees reportedly still not interested in Stephen Drew for some reason
- What does next year's free agent market for shortstops look like?
- Under pressure - is playing in New York really that big a deal?