Reader Travis recently asked us to take a look ahead to next offseason, to see who comes off the board for the Yankees, who in the free agent class might make sense to pursue and who might be ready to contribute from the farm.
We’ll start by taking a look at the Yankees’ 2011 and 2012 payroll obligations. The following chart was culled from Cot’s and Joe Pawlikowski’s post last month on RAB about the Yankee payroll, which in turn mined data from Cot’s Yankee payroll spreadsheet.
|NYY Under Contract||2011||2012|
This of course does not include the remaining 22 players that make up the 40-man roster. We can guesstimate around $10 million for this group, but it probably won’t even be that high.
Anyway, while there appears to be a pretty significant discrepancy between the 2011 and 2012 payrolls, keep in mind that the 2012 payroll only has the buyout numbers for Cano, Swisher and Marte. If we assume the Yankees pick up Cano’s and Swish’s options (and there’s really no reason not to, as Cano’s is only $14 million and Swish’s is only $10.25 million), and deny Marte’s, then the 2012 payroll is already at $177,411,000 for just 11 players. Of course, this being the Yankees, that probably means they have somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 to $30 million to spend, if they want to continue maintaining a payroll above $200 million. Unfortunately, they may have some difficulty finding worthwhile ways in which to deploy that capital.
Heading into the 2011-2012 offseason, the Yankees will still have the majority of their starting lineup in place. While I expect Jorge Posada to fade into retirement, it’s not impossible he ends up signing a one-year deal as a part-time player if he’s still productive in 2011. The Yankees could be looking for a catcher, but that’s only if Jesus Montero ends up being an unmitigated disaster behind the dish. So it looks like the Yankees will (once again) be in the market for a couple of starting pitchers. Even if Andy Pettitte does end up coming back at this point, it seems like there’s zero chance he’d play in 2012, and unless Ivan Nova takes a huge step forward I can’t envision him locking a rotation spot down.
A quick glance at the free agent starting pitching list yields the following potentially interesting names: Mark Buehrle, Chris Carpenter (though he has a team option), Edwin Jackson, Joel Pineiro,
Wandy Rodriguez and C.J. Wilson. Each of these pitchers (except Wilson) has been bandied about as potential trade bait for the Yankees this current offseason, and it would not be terribly surprising to see the team make a run at one or more of them. Unless Wilson crashes and burns, I can’t imagine Texas not locking him up for a few more years, so I wouldn’t even consider him an option.
Buehrle could be a compelling pursuit due to his lefthandedness, not to mention the fact that he’s an absolute workhorse (incredibly he has pitched more than 200 innings in every single season since 2001) and a pretty good bet for at least 3.0 fWAR (he’s only recorded a season below 3.4 once in the last 10 years). On the flip side, you could make a case that all the wear and tear will make him damaged goods and that you’d be paying primarily for past performance, which is true, but I could envision worse options than the 33-year-old version of Mark Buehrle as fourth or fifth starter on the
Yankees. Rodriguez also might’ve been a worthwhile pursuit, but literally as I was writing this on Tuesday evening word came that the Astros extended Wandy for three years, $34 million. It would appear that, now that Omar Minaya is no longer at the helm of a Major League franchise, Ed Wade is eager to take his place against Dayton Moore in The Contest.
For fun, a quick perusal of position players — just in case the Yankees end up trading one of theirs — yields no one particularly interesting in the infield, and includes outfielders Jose Bautista, David DeJesus, J.D. Drew, Corey Hart and Yankeeist favorite Josh Willingham. If Swish slumps, Grandy reverts to his struggles against lefties and/or Gardy ends up showing that 2010 was a fluke, then the Yankees could be in on one of these players.
And to answer Travis’ final question regarding who down on the farm might be ready to contribute to the 2012 team, while it’s impossible to say before we see how these players perform this coming year, in light of the glowing scouting reports we’ve read and the apparent progress they’ve made, it sounds like at least one of the Killer Bs — Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and Manny Banuelos — should see some time with the Big League club. Many — myself included — expect Brackman to make an appearance in the Majors sometime this season, and if all goes according to plan, we could see all three in the Bronx at some point in 2012.
Other minor leaguers that, if they don’t see time in 2011 could possibly come up in 2012 include Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps, Brandon Laird, who we wrote about the other day, and Jorge Vazquez, who we’ll be doing a post on in the next few days.