It’s been an exciting and eventful offseason so far for New York Yankees fans. While the team did let arguably their best player in second baseman Robinson Cano bolt for the Seattle Mariners, the team has also made some big moves of their own, signing catcher Brian McCann to a 5-year $85 million deal, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7-year $153 million deal, and outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 3-year $45 million deal. While the Yankees are still far from finished this offseason, they are hoping that these three along with the rest of team can come together to bring a World Series title back to the Bronx. Here are some predictions as to which three players will contribute most to the team in 2014.
1. Brian McCann: Brian McCann was the first signing of the offseason for the Yankees. On November 23rd, McCann agreed with the Yankees on a 5-year $85 million deal, plus a vesting option for a sixth year that could bring the total value of the deal to $100 million. McCann is a 7-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, and was named the 2010 All-Star Game MVP. Not only is McCann one of the best defensive catchers in baseball today, but he’s also got a lot of power as well. In his nine seasons in the big leagues, he’s hit at least 20 home runs in seven of them. McCann is a dead-pull lefty hitter, which is why the Yankees view him as a perfect fit for their infamous short right field porch. If all goes according to plan, McCann very well could become one of the top offensive contributors on the team, in addition to his superb defense.
Prediction: McCann finishes 2014 with a .270 BA, 34 homers, and 95 RBI.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury: On December 3rd, Ellsbury and the Yankees agreed on a 7-year $153 million deal, including an option for an eighth year that could bring the overall value of the contract to $169 million. This is the third largest contract for an outfielder in major league history, and the tenth richest overall. This was a move that caught many off guard, and also convinced many others that with this move the Yankees had given up on re-signing Cano. While it likely did prevent the team from re-signing him, the Yankees had made it clear that they would not be going a dime over $175 million, and thus Cano is a Seattle Mariner. Many view the Ellsbury signing as the Yankees grossly overpaying for someone who is injured half the time. While it is true, Ellsbury has had a history of injuries, as principal owner, managing general partner and co-chairman of the Yankees Hal Steinbrenner said at Ellsbury’s press conference a few weeks ago: “A lot of the injuries, if you look at them, are freakish: running into walls, running into people, people falling on top of you. It’s those kind of things. I’d be more concerned if it was a serious shoulder issue that is chronic or serious or something else that was chronic. I think he’ll be fine.” The Yankees are certainly banking on that chance with this contract. But there is no denying that when healthy, Jacoby is one of the most productive players in the game. Ellsbury finished last season with 52 stolen bases en route to leading the rival Boston Red Sox to their third World Series title in the last decade, and their second with Ellsbury. Ellsbury is also only two seasons removed from finishing as the runner up in the AL MVP voting, losing out to Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Ellsbury finished that season with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, and a .321 BA. Four seasons ago, Ellsbury also finished first in the league with 70 stolen bases! There is no doubt that when paired with fellow outfielder Brett Gardner (barring a trade), the duo would be an explosion of speed on the base paths and in the field.
Prediction: Ellsbury appears in 150 games for the Bombers, finishing with a .290 BA, 27 homers, 100 RBI, and leads the league with 49 stolen bases.
3. CC Sabathia: Up until last season, C.C. Sabathia had been the definition of an ace for the Yankees. Through four seasons with the team he had compiled a win-loss record of 88-42, had been named an All-Star 3 seasons in a row (from 2010-2012), had led the AL in wins twice (2009, 2010), and had helped lead the Bombers to their first World Series victory in nine years in 2009…then 2013 hit. Sabathia finished 2013 with a record of 14-13, and an ERA of 4.78, the worst of his career. He also gave up a career high 122 runs, and 28 home runs another career high. Most of this was probably due to the fact that this was the first season that Sabathia had to rely solely on location, and not on speed. Either way, Sabathia was far from an ace in 2013, but he has vowed that in 2014 he will return to normal. One thing is for sure: the Yankees cannot afford for Sabathia to go through another season pitching the way he did last season. They’re counting on him, and C.C. knows that.
Prediction: Sabathia gets his career back on track, finishing 2014 with a record of 17-10, and an ERA of 3.20
These are my predictions as to which three players will contribute the most in 2014. Feel free to comment as to which players you think will contribute the most in 2014!