Part 3 of 3: When the Yankees open the 2013 season, there are oh so many questions about which 2012 Yankees will be on the opening day 2013 roster. The Yankees just picked up the 2013 options for Cano and Granderson for $15 million each. Swisher, Kuroda, and Soriano reject their 13.3 million qualifying offers. Twelve members of the 2012 Yankees: Eric Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Russell Martin, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki and Nick Swisher have become free agents. Rafael Soriano has walked away from a $14 million salary for next year, terminating his contract to become a free agent. Their number one pitcher CC Sabathia just had elbow surgery on his pitching arm. Kuroda is a must sign. If CC is not ready for opening day, Kuroda will fill in. Michael Pineda will not be ready to pitch until June. Jeter will return after breaking his ankle in the playoffs.
The following free agents will not wear pinstripes next year. These include Feliciano, out of baseball for two years, Garcia, who lost his effectiveness, Jones, who is over the hill, and Nick Swisher, who failed in consecutive playoffs. The Yankees would love to sign Rivera, Lowe and Pettitte to one year contracts. Newsflash: Mariano just announced he will return for 2013. This means they will not go after Soriano, who wants to be a closer anyway. Girardi likes Russell Martin’s defense and the way he handles pitchers. Martin will be the opening day catcher since Austin Romine is not ready and they probably are not interested in Napoli and Pierzynski. Chavez and Ibanez proved themselves as valuable role players and should be resigned. Ibanez value has gone way up and the Yankees may not be willing to up the ante for him. Since A-Rod and Jeter will spend a great deal of time as DHs, Ibanez is expendable. Chavez must be resigned to backup A-Rod.
A big question mark is A-Rod. He struggled down the stretch and performed horribly in the post-season with 3 hits in 25 at-bats, 12 Ks, and 0 home runs and 0 RBIs. His regular season 18 home runs, 57 RBIs, and OPS of .783 were the lowest for a full season. Clearly, Girardi has lost confidence in him, pinch hitting for him on three occasions in the playoffs and benching him in three other games including game 4 of the Detroit series. With approximately $110 million remaining for five years on his no–trade contract, the chances are he will be a Yankee for the next few years. Girardi has already begun the process of mending fences with A-Rod. If A-Rod can stay healthy next year he is still an above-average third baseman. He could contribute 25 home runs and drive in 80+ runs while batting .270. Not bad but not worth $22 million.
The infield is set with Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, and A-Rod. What about the outfield? Suzuki hitting .322 in 67 games with the Yankees is loved by Girardi. If he is willing to sign for about $8 million, he will be in pinstripes next year. Right now we have 4 outfielders in the mix. They are Gardner, Granderson, Suzuki, and the soon to be signed, hopefully. free agent Torii Hunter. You heard me right. The Yankees should sign the 37 year old Hunter to a two year contract to replace Swisher. Last year Hunter batted .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs in 140 games with the Angels. His defense in the corner positions would be an immediate upgrade over Swisher’s inconsistencies in right field. Hunter would be an important player to use against left-handed pitching as he batted .340 versus LHPs in 2012. He will supply the right-handed power needed by the Yankees. Assuming Granderson is not traded, the opening day outfield will consist of three of these four outfielders. Each of them could play any of the three positions. You ask what if Hunter does not sign. Well did you ever hear of Josh Hamilton and Justin Upton?
Hunter would look good in pinstripes. Not a fan of all these 1-year contracts. Something to be said for stability. Still, the team should be pretty good. Not much 2012 Red Sox downside here… I hope.
November 17, 2012 06:47:53