Over the last couple of weeks, a number of writers here at IIATMS/TYA have each completed a project where we act as General Manager and attempt to build our best teams under $189 million. The goal was not to predict the offseason, and it wasn’t to tell Cashman what he should or shouldn’t do, but to explore the possibilities with the $189 million budget. The point was to stir discussion about free agents or trade targets, and how they could fit into the Yankees’ future plans. With 6 rosters accounted for, let’s reexamine each one.
The goal of my team was to focus on acquiring bats and gloves. There’s currently little depth in terms of young major league-ready position players, but the team has quite a few middle tier relievers and starters. By creating a roster with impeccable infield defense (Brendan Ryan and Uribe on the left side), an extremely solid outfield, and one of the best pitch framing and plate blocking catchers in the game, I’m hoping that the team finds a couple of solid ground ball inducing pitchers out of guys like David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, Manny Banuelos, Michael Pineda, and so on.
Brad chose to spread the money around to more mid-range free agents, a technique that the Red Sox perfected in 2013. Instead of spending $16 million a year on McCann, this roster added Hart to the lineup at DH, and Kazmir to the rotation as the fourth starter. Reynolds enters at third base, and with Derek Jeter back at shortstop, the team takes a hit in defense, but also gains bigger offensive potential. Crain’s addition to the bullpen should also add some insurance if David Robertson struggles or faces injuries as the closer in 2014.
Matt’s roster was statistically based. Between the projected WAR of his signings, the team reached 89.8 wins through shoring up both the lineup and pitching. Morse was the first new addition, and at 1 year and $6 million, he could prove extremely valuable with his bat. Although he isn’t too impressive on the field, Morse has enough opposite field power to hit home runs in Yankee Stadium. The additions of Cano and Uribe should help ground ball pitcher like Maholm succeed by pitching to contact.
Traded for: 3B Chase Headley ($9.5MM)
William’s team took a hit without signing McCann and keeping Ryan at shortstop, but he made up for it by signing Beltran and trading for Headley. Beltran could very well be the most offensive-minded outfielder on the market, and Headley has huge potential in Yankee Stadium. The question remains on what it would take to get him following a disappointing and injury-plagued season, but the Padres are indeed shopping him. This lineup also features perhaps the biggest pitching upgrade. The additions of Kuroda and Tanaka represents two front-end starters, and Benoit is now next to just Balfour as the top free agent reliever.
Domenic rolled the dice on his lineup, not including Jeter’s $7 million bonus in the calculations, and then coming within $3 million of the $189 million cap. It is a risk, but the chances of Jeter winning an MVP and other awards are slim. The extra money went towards defense, with Omar Infante representing a strong third base glove, versatility around field, and an above average bat. Granderson is also back, but this time as a full time right-fielder. Though his arm might not play well in the corner, he certainly has the range to save runs. Again, the improved infield defense will help the two ground ball pitchers, Tanaka and Maholm.
Signed: C Brian McCann (5/$85MM), 2B Robinson Cano (8/$180MM), 3B Juan Uribe (2/$12MM), RF Nelson Cruz (3/$39MM), SP Masahiro Tanaka (6/$56MM), RP Jesse Crain (3/$3.5MM)
Again, we have an extremely solid infield with Joe’s team. That defense should help the young pitchers backup a rotation starting with Sabathia, Nova, and Tanaka. Nelson Cruz is the new name here, and the savings between Cruz and the other top outfielders should help the team shore up the bullpen with Crain. Cruz’ potential is high, but his value is lowered by the recent PED suspension. His defense isn’t quite up to the standards of Choo, Ellsbury, or Granderson, but it’s not entirely necessary in Yankee Stadium’s right field.
So there you have it, Project 189. I was going to put up a poll to see what the readers thought was the best plan, but I think it’s best just to discuss what parts make the most sense. I personally love the idea of signing Hart, Morse, or trading for Headley. Building up the infield defense would be a lot of fun after years of watching Jeter, Rodriguez, and even Jason Giambi. Maholm’s ground ball style of pitching then fits the team well. What does everyone else think?