Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hypothetical 2017 Yankees Club w/ Offseason Spending Spree

The New York Yankees went an entire offseason without signing a single major league free agent this winter, something I can’t ever remember seeing in my lifetime and fandom. Now the Yankees did take on money and add talent in the Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Aroldis Chapman trades but the fact remains that New York did not sign a single free agent. Not for the bench, not for the bullpen and not for the starting rotation. This is especially shocking because this was one of the deepest free agent classes in recent memory and easily the deepest since the qualifying offer system was put into place and the Yankees showed patience and a willingness to stay the course. What if they throw the course out the window this winter and fill holes via free agency before 2017?

Obviously this is hypothetical, it even says so in the post title, so take it as that before sending hate mail to the site. It may be hypothetical but it is still plausible if you look at the recent history with the Yankees and with Hal Steinbrenner specifically. Attendance is down in 2016 already and will continue to be down in my opinion, even Bald Vinny isn’t going to the games anymore with any sort of consistency, and while Hal may be cheap he definitely isn’t dumb. He knows it takes stars and a draw to get people to come to the stadium and pay those prices down in the Bronx. Hal knows that spending a little actually makes money in the long run, as long as the team is winning and the spending is done the correct way anyway, and Hal knows that New York has some money coming off the books after the season. Hal may spend and he may spend a lot.

The Yankees will have a hole at first base after the season with the departure of Mark Teixeira and they will have another hole out in right field with Carlos Beltran’s contract expiring. New York will likely have another closer in 2017, whether it be Andrew Miller or a free agent, but one thing looks certain and that is that it won’t be Aroldis Chapman after his contract expires this winter and the team can always use another bench player or bullpen arm to solidify an already solid bullpen. Who could New York go after to fill these holes based on the presumption, for the sake and fun of this post, that Aaron Judge won’t be ready for right field and MLB pitching and that Greg Bird will need some time to get his shoulder right after offseason shoulder surgery. Taking a look at the potential free agent market after this season the “pickins” may be slim unfortunately.

We start with an easy one in my eyes, replacing Carlos Beltran. Outfielders tend to come a dime a dozen on the free agent market every season, especially at the corner spots, but there is one outfielder that specifically caught my eye. This outfielder can opt-out of his current contract after the season and this same outfielder approached the Yankees offering his services to the club. This outfielder is Yoenis Cespedes. I don’t believe Cespedes is as good over the course of 162 games as he was in  a half season with the Mets in 2015 but I believe he’s a lot better than Beltran and a lot better than most of what is set to be on the free agent market. He’s 31-years old so I don’t care as much about the money as I do about the years. Keep the years under five years and I’m happy, sign him up. Also, yes I realize Jose Bautista is a free agent and yes I realize his power inside Yankee Stadium would be tremendous and would far outweigh him being a douche bag, my opinion, but I see him destined for Boston to continue to be a thorn in the Yankees side.

Replacing Mark Teixeira may not be as easy as replacing Beltran due to the fact that the first base market is as dry as a cucumber next winter. The headliners at the position will be Mark Trumbo, Justin Smoak and Edwin Encarnacion while the likes of Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, Ryan Howard, James Loney, Mike Napoli and Wilin Rosario bring up the second tier. It’s almost has to be Edwin Encarnacion or bust for the Yankees, doesn’t it? He is 34-years old and unlikely to sign a short term deal so the blocking of Greg Bird wouldn’t be ideal here but the rest of the options just aren’t that enticing. Maybe New York can get creative and put an opt-out clause in there or options or something, I don’t know, but if it’s not Encarnacion it looks like Teixeira may be back on a one-year deal and/or a qualifying offer.

The final piece to the spending spree comes from the Yankees pitching staff, either for the rotation or the bullpen. The pen seems easier to fill from within but the rotation still seems to need help in 2017. CC Sabathia will be another year older, Ivan Nova will be potentially gone and you still don’t know what to expect out of Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi from start to start. So while the team would technically look to replace Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen the team may indirectly replace him by adding a starter that can give the team more than five or six innings a night thus taking the pressure and some of the work load off the pen. This is all for fun and we’re going big so I’m going real big and I’m reaching for the stars, the Washington Nationals stars. Stephen Strasburg come on down, you’re the next contestant in the Yankees future starting rotation.

You don’t see 28-year old former first overall draft picks hit the free agent market every day and when you do you have to snatch him up. He makes the team better and younger and so does Cespedes in my opinion. Encarnacion or Teixeira may make the team better but certainly not younger, that’s what you run into though when your farm system isn’t as deep as it needs to be. That forces you into the pool with the big boys and it forces you to write checks your ass doesn’t want to cash Hal. Write those checks buddy, I just told you how. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)