It's been said that the Yankees are looking to get under the $189 million budget mark in order to reset their luxury tax penalties next year. Robinson Cano is now gone and it's easy to see that Plan 189 is indeed in full effect. Hal Steinbrenner says getting that money back will help the Yankees contend long-term, but who are they holding that money for?
If you're wondering why the free agent market has been a little light this year, it's because the market is changing and teams are now able to lock up their players to longer deals that prevent teams like the Yankees from picking them up. Because of that there are less players hitting the open market and less players worth holding onto money for.
In 2015, the Yankees will have Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury signed to long-term contracts. This offseason isn't over yet, so it's possible they also sign Shin-Soo Choo or Carlos Beltran as well. (Update: Beltran it is.)That means next year they would have catcher, first base, and at least two outfield positions locked down, so where would they go with all the money they saved?
The best second baseman on the market next offseason is Emilio Bonifacio, and by best, I mean the least worst. Rickie Weeks and Ben Zobrist both have options for 2015. Who knows where Derek Jeter will be this time next year, but J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, and Hanley Ramirez will all be on the open market, though Hanley could get an extension from the Dodgers before then.
We still don't know what will be happening with Alex Rodriguez this winter, but if the 211-game suspension is upheld, he won't be able to start the 2015 season on time. The Yankees could look into someone like Chase Headley, Pablo Sandoval, or even Ramirez.
Depending on what the Yankees do in the outfield in 2014, they could be looking for one or two free agent outfielders for 2015. Brett Gardner could be re-signed if the deal isn't too high. Colby Rasmus is also available, but they could move him to a corner outfield spot if they really want to.
Next year, CC is the only pitcher guaranteed to be in the rotation again. They're likely to add someone else this season, so it's possible the Yankees could only need one or two pitchers if Ivan Nova remains useful. Here they can choose from James Shields, Max Scherzer, Homer Bailey, and Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, Scherzer and Kershaw could very well be locked up at some point before they hit the open market.
So now that Cano is gone and they can safely sit under their budget and get their money back, who exactly are the Yankees going to sign that needed all this money? Ramirez, Kershaw, and Scherzer are really the only players I feel the Yankees could use that this money is needed to grab. I'd be surprised if any of them hit free agency.
Since when do the Yankees need to save in order to make a signing? The Steinbrenners are preaching about how staying under budget and allowing Cano to leave will help the team succeed, but when all the savings come down, where is that money going? It feels like it's going right into Hal's pocket.