With the breaking news this morning that the New York Yankees have won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes for a staggering 7 years and $155 million dollars, the goal of coming in under the $189 million dollar payroll threshold is all but a pipe dream now. The big question is, where do the Bronx Bombers go from here?
For starters, they can still add another starting pitcher to the back end of the rotation if, and only if, team officials aren’t sold on any of the candidates who will all be vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation: Michael Pineda, David Phelps, and Vidal Nuno among others. If the Yankees truly wanted to guarantee their return to greatness, they would still consider signing one of the big three domestic free agent arms still on the market. While I have always been sold on Ubaldo Jimenez and his upside, with the signing of Tanaka, it would actually make more sense to NOW, as my partner in crime and fellow editor Jason Evans has always stated, bring in Matt Garza. He won’t cost nearly as much as Jimenez, and there is no draft pick attached to his signing. Garza is no ace by any means, and is a middle of the rotation starter at this point in his career. By adding Garza to the mix, it could push Ivan Nova back to the #5 slot in the rotation, and would make the Yankees starting five one of the most lethal in all of baseball.
Once the starting rotation has been handled, it’s time to address the lingering absence of Alex Rodriguez at third base. It is now time to revisit trade talks with the San Diego Padres for third baseman Chase Headley. A package of Brett Gardner and a minor league arm should suffice. Gardner will leave New York one way or another, so the Yankees might as well strike while the iron is hot. Gardner’s speed and ability to cover a ton of ground in the outfield would play well at Petco Park, and adding the minor league arm is just icing on the cake for the Friars. With Headley at third, the Yankees could move free agent acquisition Kelly Johnson back to second base for a straight platoon with the oft-injured Brian Roberts.
So okay, Gardner for Headley. Who plays left field now? None other than Alfonso Soriano. The lineup just got more powerful with the addition of Headley, and with Soriano moving back to left, the Yankees have an opening at designated hitter. This is where the Yankees should open up the pocket book, and sign free agent switch-hitter Kendrys Morales to a 2-year deal. Not only is he a middle of the order run producer, but he would provide valuable insurance for first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was reported about yesterday, as having lingering effects from his surgically-repaired wrist.
That leaves the bullpen. Nobody is ever going to be Mariano Rivera. Fortunately for the Yankees, a very good, and affordable option is still on the free agent market. I know, there are plenty of people that believe that it is now David Robertson‘s time to shine. I’m of the opinion, that if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. Robertson is one of the best set up men in all of baseball. Add in Shawn Kelley as the power arm in the seventh, the Yankees have as good a bridge to the closer’s role as any bullpen in baseball. It’s time to sign Grant Balfour. I don’t care that he failed his physical in Baltimore. There’s a reason the Orioles haven’t mattered for the better part of the last 15 years. Sure, Buck Showalter is turning the ship around, but they are no close at this point. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Balfour and his fiery attitude will play well to the Bronx faithful, and he is unintimidated by hitters of the AL East. He knows the division having pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays. Give the man his 2-year deal, and make the Yankees’ bullpen the best in baseball. The other pieces are in place, and the signing of Balfour would complete the offseason overhaul.
The Yankees obviously made the decision to reload after not only missing the playoffs for the second time in the past 19 seasons, but also witnessing their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox carry home the World Series crown. As the old saying goes…in for a penny, in for a pound. Now with Tanaka on board, it’s time to complete the mission and open spring training with only one goal in mind: bring home title #28 to the Bronx!
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