Monday, October 21, 2013
To spend or not to spend?
That will be the primary question when the Yankees’ front office convenes Monday at the Stadium for the first of three days of organizational meetings. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner will be in attendance along with team president Randy Levine, COO Lonn Trost and general manager Brian Cashman among others.
With the $189 million luxury tax threshold and the massive benefits it potentially offers hanging over their heads, the Bombers must decide between fiscal responsibility and contending next season.
Or do they?
This much we know: Cashman has a lot of work to do this winter. With holes at second base and catcher, at least two open spots in the rotation, a weak platoon in right field and uncertainty at both shortstop and third base, the Yankees are faced with a number of areas to address between now and February.
But with roughly $90 million coming off the books, Cashman and Co. will have some money to spend.
The more I think about the 2014 Yankees, the more I think that they can’t spend enough to be contenders in 2014. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try and add some players to their roster, but they should eschew signing people like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann who are not likely to be part of a Yankee team that could be a contender down the road. If I were the Yankees, I’d focus on adding players who are young enough to be useful from 2015 on, and I’d probably avoid signing any players that would cost the team their first round draft pick in 2014.
I’d bring back Robinson Cano if he can be signed for six years or less, I’d extend qualifying offers to Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson and be fine if they accepted but wouldn’t go to multiple years on either one. I’d make a serious bid for Masahiro Tanaka, and I’d use 2014 to try and see what they can get out of players like Francisco Cervelli, J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, Delin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren. I’d hope that Slade Heathcott and/or Tyler Austin can finish the year in AAA with an eye towards the majors in 2015.
I’m not sure what the Yankees are going to do with David Robertson and Brett Gardner, both of whom can be free agents after 2014. I don’t anticipate Robertson having major issues as the closer should he earn the job, but I can’t see the Yankees extending him until they see what he does next year, and I’m not sure what kind of financial commitment they want to make to him going forward. Similarly, I wonder if Brett Gardner will be a Yankee after 2014 if they are concerned about his ability to stay healthy and his likelihood of maintaining his value as his speed declines.
What I don’t want to watch is another attempt to force a mid 80s win team into the postseason with a bunch of retreads and 35+ year olds. It’s boring and it’s predictable, and it’s just not entertaining. And at the end of the day, baseball is supposed to be entertaining.
The Yankees could contend even if they don’t make significant additions this offseason if they get better than expected returns from Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, and if Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is cut to say 50 games and he exceeds his projections, and if they get positive contributions from some of their younger players. But expecting all that to happen would be foolish.
If it happens, then maybe you explore adding some pieces during the season, but it shouldn’t be the basis of their offseason plan.
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