NEW YORK (WFAN) — It might end up being 2009 all over again.
According to WFAN and CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman, the Yankees are developing the type of shopping list this offseason that conjures memories of their onslaught on the market four years ago when they signed CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira to mega-deals.
That team went on to win the World Series.
Since that season the Yankees, who missed the playoffs this season for just the second time in 19 years, have gotten long in the tooth at several positions and have resorted more to short-term contracts. However, a ton of money will be coming off their books in the coming days. After the World Series they will no longer be responsible for retired Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who made $22 million combined, probably Kevin Youkilis ($12 million), and at least part of Alex Rodriguez’s gargantuan $29 million tab should he be suspended.
They may also choose to not re-sign 38-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who made $15 million this past season and has hinted he may return to Japan to finish his career. Kuroda was awful down the stretch for the Bombers, going 1-7 with an ERA north of 5.00 over his last 10 starts.
Then there’s outfielder Curtis Granderson, who missed 100 games due to freak injuries and finished with just 7 homers. He made $15 million last season and will draw interest on the open market, but has said he wants to return to the Bronx. The Yankees could bring him back on a one-year deal for a little less, according to reports.
Throw in a few lesser-ticket players like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mark Reynolds and Travis Hafner and it stands to reason the Yankees could slice in the neighborhood of $80 million or so off a payroll that was a reported $230 million last season. This would jive with their desire to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold, but would also leave them with ample room to maneuver.
Then again, they are the Yankees and principal owner Hal Steinbrenner has said the threshold is not a mandate.
In addition to wanting to re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano, who is by far the biggest free agent on the market but has reportedly asked for in excess of $300 million over 10 years, the Yankees discussed several big-name free agents-to-be, including St. Louis outfielder Carlos Beltran, Atlanta catcher Brian McCann and Cincinnati outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, at the team’s organizational meetings recently, Heyman reported.
The Yankees also reportedly have interest in 24-year-old right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who went 20-0 with a 1.23 ERA last season in the Japan Pacific League. If the Bombers were to bid for his rights, a number that could possibly be around $60 million, that cost will not be counted against the salary threshold. Only the contract he signs would.
After the regular season ended, general manager Brian Cashman told WFAN’s Mike Francesa the Yankees would likely need up to 600 innings from pitchers outside the organization next season.
Beltran, who will be 37 before next season starts, makes a lot of sense and would hasten the Yankees’ breakup with Granderson. Beltran has shown he can still play to All-Star form and would be a great fit in a corner outfield spot, with Alfonso Soriano on the other side and Brett Gardner in the middle. That would allow aging Ichiro Suzuki, who has one year left on his deal, to come off the bench. Suzuki, who turned 40 on Tuesday, was forced to play 150 games last season due to the Yankees’ multitude of injuries and hit a career-low .262.
McCann, 30, would solve a major problem behind the plate. Yankees catchers — Chris Stewart, Austin Romine, Francisco Cervelli and J.R. Murphy — hit a combined .268 with 8 home runs and 44 RBIs last season, while McCann hit 20 and drove in 57 for the Braves. McCann is a career .277 hitter who is averaging 20 homers over his last eight seasons, a seemingly good fit for the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
The question is, will the Yankees give McCann anywhere near the reported $100 million he could seek on the open market?
Choo, 31, hit .285 with 21 homers and 54 RBIs for the Reds, but the Yankees apparently like his .423 on-base percentage more, Heyman reported. He and Granderson may be the fall-back plan if Beltran asks for too much.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, the 2014 Yankees will look decidedly different than the team that finished 85-77 this past season.
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