Friday, September 13, 2013

2014 Yankees Outfield

The 2014 New York Yankees are very much an unknown right now. 

Nobody knows whether or not the Yankees will stick to getting under the $189 million luxury tax. Also, with Alex Rodriguez’s status uncertain for next season at this point, nobody knows how much money they will have to play with if they stick to the $189 million plan. 
The Yankees outfield situation for 2014 is very much in flux, but they seem to be in a pretty good situation. The only certainties, assuming that they are healthy, are that Brett Gardner will be in center field and Alfonso Soriano will be in left field. 
Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki are under contract for 2014, but neither should be starting. The Yankees will certainly offer Curtis Granderson a qualifying offer for 1 year, $14 million. Hopefully, for the Yankees’ sake he takes it because getting Granderson at that price for one season would be a nice bargain. 
Granderson has played very well since returning from the DL, although he hit a little slump last he has come out of it in Baltimore. Granderson’s slash line for the season is .250/.344/.442/.787 with a .344 wOBA and 114 wRC+. Granderson’s power had been down this year, but he has homered in his last two games so maybe he has found his power stroke, and his 12.1 BB% this excellent. Also, Granderson’s defense in the corner outfield spots has been much better this year, as he is +4.8 runs in the field this year after being -18.1 runs last year.
Both Gardner and Soriano have had fantastic seasons for the Yankees. Gardner has consistently been there for the Yankees over this whole season. Gardner’s slash line on the season is .274/.343/.418/.761. You would like to see him get on base and walk more out of the leadoff spot, but that is really the only complaint that you can have about him this year. He has been a catalyst for the Yankees this season and has come up with some huge clutch hits. 
Soriano’s impact on the Yankees has been obvious, as he drilled two more home runs last night that helped fuel their huge comeback victory over Baltimore. Soriano has 15 home runs in only 184 Yankee at-bats. His presence has also allowed Robinson Cano to take off in front of him. The one reason I was a little weary of the Soriano trade was that he was under contract for next season and he now looks like a bargain. He will go down as one of the Yankees’ greatest trade deadline acquisitions ever. 
An outfield of Soriano, Gardner and Granderson would be very solid for 2014, but again Granderson is an unknown. If he does not return the Yankees should go out and sign somebody else and not start Ichiro Suzuki again. 
Suzuki is just not a starting caliber outfielder anymore, as he is just pretty much finished at the plate. Suzuki has been dreadful in the second half with a slash line of .233/.265/.276/.541. He is still solid in the outfield and on the bases, so a bench role would be much more suited to his ability at this point in his career. Signing him to a two-year contract was just not a good decision. 
Even though Wells is not counting against the Yankees’ luxury tax, he is still somehow overpaid. His 0.0 WAR this year indicates that. The Yankees should just cut ties with Wells next year because he serves no purpose on this team. They should just give a younger player a chance at the bench spot that he would take up. 
The best free agent right field options if Granderson doesn’t return are Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and Nelson Cruz. If Rodriguez’s suspension is upheld than the Yankees would have a much better chance at affording one of these players. 
Choo is the best player on the market with his incredible .425 OBP, 20 home runs, and 152 wRC+. He does come with some questions though about his fielding (-15.6 this year) and his struggles against lefties (.211/.350/.247/.597). Beltran is still a solid player at his advanced age of 36. Pence and Cruz are also very nice players despite Cruz’s suspension for PEDs this season. 
The offseason for the Yankees this winter will be one of the most interesting in recent memory and how the Yankees configure their outfield will be a big part of that. Hopefully they can make some better decisions than they did last winter.  

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