Yet the Yankees still had holes to fill, and not bench players either. The team needed to fill the starting right field and catching spots, and that was assuming Derek Jeter was going to get back into shape and be able to play on Opening Day. That is until, lo and behold, Alex Rodriguez needed to have surgery on his left hip to repair a torn labrum in that joint, similar to the procedure he had done on his right hip in 2009.
So the Yankees had three starting positions to fill.
Starting with a catcher, the free agent options weren't great, as the only one that got me close to excited was Mike Napoli, and he's never caught even a hundred games in a season. Which meant re-signing Russell Martin was the best way to go. Alas, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Martin to a two-year $17 million contract before the end of November. Perhaps the Yankees had no interest in bringing the Russ Bus back to the Bronx, but on the surface it appears that they were outbid by the Pirates. The Pirates! We get players from them... not the other way around!
Here we are on December 6th, the Winter Meetings are over, and the only option left seems to be AJ Pierzynski. This is a guy that hasn't gotten on base more than 33.3% of the time since 2003, and last season he struck out 15% of the time... his highest strikeout rate since the last millennium. That's not to say a couple of the options that were signed by other teams are much better, as David Ross went to Boston for 2 years and $6.2 million, and Carlos Ruiz returned to Philadelphia for 1 year and $5 million. But here we are on December 6th and the future doesn't look too bright behind the dish.
The outfield options aren't or weren't anything to write home about either. That is, except for maybe Josh Hamilton, who is still available but not exactly a bargain. The Yankees were linked to Torii Hunter (signed with Detroit for 2 years and $26 million), Shane Victorino (signed with Boston for 3 years and $39 million), and Angel Pagan (signed with San Francisco for 4 years and $40 million). Gone, gone, and gone. There was the possibility of BJ Upton, although I was never a fan, and the 5 years and $75 million Atlanta signed him for were a bit much. I don't think the Yankees eyed him as a starter, but Nate Schierholtz was close to a sure thing signing by the Yankees until the Chicago Cubs swooped in and signed the outfielder for 1 year and $2.25 million.
Yesterday news broke that Eric Chavez had reached an agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks for 1 year and $3 million, meaning a possible replacement for ARod was off the table now too. Jeff Keppinger was a good option, and it seemed as if the team had a good shot at signing him, until the White Sox snagged Keppinger for 3 years and $12 million. The news regarding interest in Marco Scutaro never reached "scorching hot" status, although it may have if it wasn't for the fact that San Francisco locked him up for 3 years and $20 million.
The Yankees have said they won't bring Nick Swisher back, but that could just be posturing to get a cheaper deal. Looking at the options still out there in free agency, Swish-a-licious may be the best option they have, though. There has been talk of bringing back Ichiro, but I'm not a fan of leaning on the guy to be the regular in right field.
The bullpen seems to be in fine shape with Rivera back, but I would have liked the Yankees to take a shot on Joakim Soria or Ryan Madson. Not only could signing one of them have strengthened the 'pen in 2013, but that guy could possibly take over for Mariano in 2014 should the G.O.A.T. retire after next season. So, naturally, the Rangers signed Soria for 2 years and $8 million, while the Angels signed Madson for 1 year and $3.5 million.
It looks like the Yankees are going to need to work some magic with a trade or two. So are there any trade rumors involving the Yankees? Kind of. I mean, it doesn't appear the Yankees have the pieces to make it happen, but they have had discussions with the Mets regarding R.A. Dickey.
But there is a rumor that the Yankees have made an offer for an ARod replacement. However, don't get ready to pop the champagne quite yet, because the guy the Yanks made an offer to is none other than The Greek God of Walks... Kevin Youkilis. Sure, he was great against lefties last season (.275/.386/.492), but not even replacement level against righties (.220/.316/.377). And we're talking about $12 million, so it's not as if they see him as a platoon player.
You can see why myself and other Yankee fans aren't looking forward to a 2013 season in which the Yankees may miss the playoffs. I still have some faith in Ninja Cashman, as he's been able to pull of some nice trades in the past, but the team is a little more desperate this time around, and with more holes to fill.