No, you will not win Homecoming King in 2014.
Since this offseason hasn't been very exciting at all, regardless of the fact that the team has signed quite a few players for a decent chunk of money, I decided to jump ahead a year and see where the team would be, and if any free agents jumped out at me.
I'm going to start by reminding everybody that Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and David Aardsma will all be through with the Yankees after this upcoming season. You may be thinking, "hey, he forgot that Joba Chamberlain will also be a free agent". You'd be half correct, as he would be a free agent, but I haven't forgot about him. You see, I think the Yankees will bring him back, unlike the other players mentioned as free agents.
I also believe that Chris Stewart, who will be going into his first year of arbitration, will be designated for assignment. That means he'll either be with another team in 2014, or he'll be in AAA. But I don't see the team keeping a 2nd arbitration eligible catcher along with Francisco Cervelli, when they have a pre-arbitration catcher like Austin Romine able to fill in as the starter or backup.
Everybody wave goodbye to Chris!
Before I show you the 2014 team so far, I wanted to add that I see the Yankees trading for somebody mid-season. For one, I don't believe Ichiro Suzuki is going to have that productive a season. Secondly, I think the Yankees are going to find their offense lacking a bit in the power department, and will want to bring in a fairly big bat. Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues took an early look at some possible mid-season trade targets, and the one that stuck out to me was Corey Hart. Mind you, that .270 batting average of his last season wasn't fantastic, nor was his .334 on-base percentage, but those 30 home runs sure were pretty impressive. And since the team will have a hole in the outfield when Granderson leaves after this season, and the other free agent outfielders don't exactly get my motor running (keeping in mind the team is not going to shell out the money to bring Grandy back, or sign a guy like Ellsbury), I can see the Yankees bringing Hart back to the team.
Oh, and I'm also assuming the Yankees re-sign Robinson Cano. The idea of an extension, which could save a bit of money towards the Luxury Tax, apparently won't happen. But I can't see Mr. Cano wearing a different uniform after 2013... that's for sure.
So without any further adieu, here is how the 2014 Yankees roster currently looks, including each player's contract's average annual value...
C - Austin Romine $500,000
1B - Mark Teixeira $22.5 million
2B - Robinson Cano $23 million
3B - Alex Rodriguez $27.5 million
SS - Derek Jeter $14 million
LF - Ichiro Suzuki $6.5 million
CF - Brett Gardner $4 million (arbitration 3... $2.85m in 2013)
RF - Corey Hart $11 million (traded for mid-season 2013, re-signed for 3 years/$36m)
BE - Francisco Cervelli $1.5 million (arbitration 1.... this was tough as I had to go by the fact that Jarrod Saltalamacchia got $2.5m in 2012 from Boston)
BE - Eduardo Nunez $500,000
BE - Tyler Austin $500,000
SP1 - CC Sabathia $22.125 million
SP3 - Michael Pineda $2 million (arbitration 1... Hughes got $2.7m in 1st year of arbitration in 2011)
SP4 - Ivan Nova $2 million (arbitration 1... Hughes got $2.7m in 1st year of arbitration in 2011)
SP5 - David Phelps $500,000
CL - David Robertson $5 million (arbitration 3... Robertson will receive $3.55m-$2.85m in 2013, and got $1.6m in 2012)
SU - Joba Chamberlain $4 million (re-signed for 3 years/$12 million)
RP - Mark Montgomery $500,000
RP - Clay Rapada $1.5 million (arbitration 1... Logan got $1.2 million in his 2nd yr of arbitration)
RP - Chase Whitley $500,000
15 Players not on Active Roster ~$3 million
TOTAL: $149.625 Million
That total doesn't include bonuses and the Yankees’ portion of the league’s player benefits that are added into the $189 million Luxury Tax threshold. That amount is expected to be in the neighborhood of $12 million for 2014. So that $149.625 total immediately jumps to $161.625.
Yes, even this guy got a bonus, and he plays for the freakin' Mets.
I can see the two bullpen, and the offensive bench, spots being filled with players from within the organization, who would all make around the league minimum as pre-arbitration players. So that would raise the payroll another $1.5 to $163.125 million.
The DH spot could be trickier, as I'm not sure the team has somebody in the minors that could step into that slot in 2014. It would be great if I was wrong about that, and somebody like Ronnier Mustelier could step in there. That would be nice as Ronnier has also played some 3B in the minors, meaning he'd be able to give ARod a half day off (meaning ARod would be the DH that day, while Mustelier started at 3B). Just because it helps me with the rest of this thought, I'm going with Mustelier filling in at DH/3B. Since Ronnier would be in his pre-arbitration years, that means he'd make around the league minimum. So add another $500,000, making the new total $163.625 million.
So at this point, in order to stay at or under the $189 million Luxury Tax threshold, the team has $25.375 million left to spend. This is where I'm going to look at that last remaining hole on the team... the 2nd starting pitcher.
Now, let me ask you this... do you trust that Michael Pineda could line-up behind CC in 2014? What about Ivan Nova or David Phelps? Hey, I could see those guys rounding out the bottom 3 of the rotation, but no chance one of those three could fill that #2 spot. That spot I'd like to see get filled by 2014 free agent to be Tim Lincecum.
Last season didn't go so well for The Freak. His ERA jumped up to 5.18 in 2012, from 2.74 the prior year. His WHIP went from 1.207 in 2011 up to 1.468 in 2012. I was trying to see just what the issue was for Timmy last season, and found that it wasn't lack of movement on his pitchers. You can see here from his Brooks Baseball Pitch F/X info that his vertical and horizontal movement didn't change at all. As for his velocity, that didn't drop much either. Mind you, it did seem to go down a bit, but that honestly seemed to be due to having just lost 30 pounds in the offseason. See, Timmy was having some knee soreness, and he felt he needed to lose weight. Turns out he may have lost too much, as pitching coach Dave Righetti (RAGS!) said he'd "showed up too little".
In all, Lincecum's ERA did go from 6.42 in the 1st half of last season to 3.83 in the 2nd half. So I think Lincecum's issue are far overblown. Besides, he did play quite a big part in the San Francisco Giants' World Series victory.
"That's not the Yankees celebrating, so I don't care."
What it comes down to is this... How much for Big Time Timmy Jim? Well, Zack Greinke just got a 6 year deal worth $147 million from the Dodgers. A deal with an average annual value of $24.5 million. I actually see Lincecum getting a little bit less per season, having come off a bad year, along with pitching in the National League his entire career. I don't mean to say they can't hit in the NL, so his stats are inflated, it's just that many pitchers have had trouble with going from the NL to the AL. Therefore, I'm seeing Tim's AAV being in the $23 million range.
As for the length of his deal, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees offer Lincecum an extra guaranteed year, or at least an option for a 7th year. So I'm going to say the Yankees could sign Tim Lincecum for 7 years and $161 million. That would give them a total payroll of $186.625 million, giving them a little wriggle room for things like Hart's contract, arbitration cases, and other miscellaneous costs throughout the season.
Let's take one last look at what the 2014 Yankees could look like...
C - Austin Romine
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Robinson Cano
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Derek Jeter
LF - Ichiro Suzuki
CF - Brett Gardner
RF - Corey Hart
DH - Ronnier Mustelier
BE - Francisco Cervelli
BE - Eduardo Nunez
BE - Tyler Austin
BE - Pre-Arbitration Player
SP1 - CC Sabathia
SP2 - Tim Lincecum
SP3 - Michael Pineda
SP4 - Ivan Nova
SP5 - David Phelps
CL - David Robertson
SU - Joba Chamberlain
RP - Mark Montgomery
RP - Clay Rapada
RP - Chase Whitley
RP - Pre-Arbitration Player
RP - Pre-Arbitration Player