Depending on who you ask these days, the Yankees' lack of big name activity to start the offseason could continue until next spring or it may just be the calm before the storm this winter. Either way, there's a lot of work to be done before this roster is complete and there's sure to be many new faces in pinstripes when it is. Regardless of what will happen this offseason, what should the general plan be? Let's weigh the pros and cons of each option.
Sign stop-gaps and let the farm grow
Out of necessity the Yankees have supplemented their weak farm system this year with a full stock of international free agents. As of Thursday's Bryan Emery signing, the team has now inked 10 of the top 30 prospects available. If the front office wants these guys as well as the handful of promising players already in the system to contribute in the majors over the next few years, the planning should start now. That would mean filling out the roster with free agents on short-term contracts while the kids develop.
Pros: It's always more satisfying for fans to watch a winner constructed mostly of homegrown players and the current squad is running low on those types. This would also eventually mark the end of bloated contracts that result in old, unproductive players earning tens of millions of dollars year in and year out.
Cons: In recent years we've seen how uninspiring a team of stop-gaps can be. In this scenario you can kiss the playoffs goodbye for the short-term future while the team continues to float around .500. Even then, there's no guarantee that these promising prospects eventually turn into productive major leaguers so it could turn into a long-term problem requiring another overhaul.
Go all-in on the top free agents
The Yankees are no strangers to spending top dollar for the best talent available. This year it would mean signing some combination of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval, or even all four of them. The team has proven that rumors don't mean much when it comes to who they actually sign, so all four are very much still in play for the Yankees. Just ask Jacoby Ellsbury.
Pros: With these guys on board the Yankees could be right in the thick of the playoff race for at least the next couple years. At this point 2012 seems like an eternity ago so any talk of playoff games in the Bronx next October would be a breath of fresh air.
Cons: Changes to the MLB collective bargaining agreement have resulted in weak free agent classes that will only continue getting weaker. The problem is, the price for top free agents is not decreasing as their value does. That means the Yankees will be getting less bang for their buck here and will only compound the already existing problem of paying old guys to do nothing but serve as a roadblock for minor league prospects.
Upgrade the roster via trade
There have already been whispers this fall that the team has at least considered trades for Elvis Andrus, Alexei Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Nick Swisher. Last week's trade of Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates could have been a warm-up exercise for a winter full of swapping that lands the Yankees some significant roster upgrades.
Pros: If Brian Cashman is shrewd enough, he could acquire players as good if not better than the top free agents through a series of trades. This could also put the Yankees right back in playoff contention. The added bonus here is that the financial burden of these players is likely to be less than that of the top free gents in terms of both years and dollars.
Cons: Trades significant enough to seriously upgrade the major league roster would come at the cost of depleting what little talent they have in the farm system, even after all of those international signings. The organization has clearly struggled with developing talent in the recent past so starting from scratch again doesn't seem like an enticing proposition.
The ideal option would be a mix of the three above that upgrades the roster without drying up all of their young talent or setting themselves up for a team full of unproductive late thirty somethings five years from now. In general though, what do you think the plan should be? Please vote below.