As the blackout last week rolled on, the conversations between my father and me inevitably rolled to baseball. One thing he kept bringing up was how this upcoming Hot Stove season would be the most challenging for Yankee GM Brian Cashman. While I think there may have been more pressure to reload after missing the playoffs in 2008, I’m more or less in league with my dad on this one. With the 2014 budget in mind, it’s hard to know just exactly what the Yankees will do this winter. We know they won’t get younger for the sake of getting younger, and that’s something I agree with. In that vein, though, the Yankees are set up to get young for 2014/2015 with the chance for some actual impact players like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Mason Williams. But with regards to the Yankees’ actual plan, I’m not ready to say I know what their exact strategy will be. So, in lieu of guessing, I’ll just lay out the very basic steps as to what I would (try to) do:
1. Starting pitching, duh. Re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte is a must. Phil Hughes had a nice year and Ivan Nova is still young enough to improve, but I’m not willing to bank on either one of them. Bringing back to two veterans is a must.
2. Right field: As most of you know, my first choice is to bring back Nick Swisher. The Yankees have extened him the $13.3M qualifying offer, but Swisher will reject it and seek a multiple-year contract elsewhere, and I can’t blame him. Even in a relatively weak free agent class, I don’t expect Swisher to get a $15M AAV contract somewhere. He is a good player, but I don’t think he has enough cache, even with four solid Bronx years behind him, to net that much in free agency. I’d offer him a three year deal, worth an AAV between $13.8-$14.4M. If Swisher can’t be had, I’d like to explore the trade market for Justin Upton. I think he’s worth giving up future assets and given the extension the Diamondbacks gave to Miguel Montero, I think Upton could be had without giving up Gary Sanchez. Admittedly, both of those options don’t seem highly likely. In that case, turning to the free agent market, I wouldn’t mind Ichiro Suzuki or Torii Hunter on one year contracts, whoever takes the smaller offer.
3. Bullpen. Even with Mariano Rivera coming back, the bullpen could use some strengthening. Rafael Soriano‘s likely departure moves David Robertson into the set up role with Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and Boone Logan falling in behind him. As I wrote in my post last week, the Yankees should look to figure out the ‘pen with high-reward reclamation projects like Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria.
4. Bench. If Eric Chavez wants to come back, great. Eduardo Nunez, despite my reservations, is a suitable back up RHB off the bench for the infield. As for the Andruw Jones role, well, I think it’s time to let Andruw go. I’ve liked him a lot since he’s been on the Yankees, but I think his ship has sailed. The Yanks could aim high for Scott Hairston, but coming off his strong season with the Mets, he might be able to land a starting job somewhere.
I’m fully aware very little of this will come true, but I’m okay with it. Let’s look back at this post in March and and laugh at how wrong I was. Oh, and don’t forget to do your civic duty and vote today!