The Yankees have spent a lot of money this offseason — and I mean a lot – but they still have some important holes to fill after signing Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday in a move that makes the starting rotation much more formidable than it did without him.
First and foremost, you have to look at the holes all around the infield. Brian McCann will be the team’s Opening Day catcher, but after that, there is a lot of uncertainty, even with there being quite a few infielders in the roster.
Looking at first base, the Yankees are going to have a lot of hopes that Mark Teixeira comes back healthy and ready to play the entire season. Right now he is expected to miss at least the first week of games during spring training because of his wrist, and if the one week turns into two, three and even gets into the season, then the Yankees are in a lot of trouble because they have nobody behind him.
If healthy, Teixeira can be a big part of the Yankees’ lineup, and they really can’t afford to go another season with him missing a ton of time.
I think that if something comes up and the Yankees need to find someone to back him up, we might be looking at the same situation they were in last season when they were pulling guys off waivers during the spring and plugging them into the lineup. You have to remember that Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay, both regular starters last season, weren’t even acquired until the final week of spring training, so we’ll probably see the same thing this year.
Shifting over to second base, I think they’ll be going into the season with Brian Roberts as their second baseman. Obviously he’s a big drop off from Robinson Cano, but Roberts can be a pretty reasonable player when healthy — which is a big “if” for him.
Just as health is a question with Teixeira at first base, it applies just as much to Derek Jeter at shortstop. After playing just 17 games last season, you know that he is going to work very hard to come back and be the everyday shortstop for the Yankees. I think don’t Father Time is going to let him play short everyday, and that’s where Brendan Ryan will come into play, most likely.
Evan with the re-signing of Ryan, I think there is a chance, not a very big chance, though, that the Yankees open their checkbook one more time and sign former Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew.
We heard some reports coming out Thursday night that the Yankees might consider making a run after Drew since the goal of getting under the $189 million luxury-tax mark is out of the window with the Tanaka signing. However, a couple of baseball insiders tweeted Friday morning that the Yankees probably aren’t going to go after Drew, even though it would make sense to go all out with there being no more spending limit.
I think Drew, while I’m not completely rooting for a signing to happen, what be a better option to play third base — should he agree to play there — over Johnson, who will probably be the Opening Day third baseman. Johnson can deliver some homeruns, but he won’t hit for a very high average, and Drew is much better defensively than Johnson.
If they don’t sign Drew, you’ll most likely see Johnson go into camp with Eduardo Nunez and Dean Anna battling for the third base job. Not exactly the greatest competition in the world, but it’s what they’ve got.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankees’ have pretty much taken care of their rotation, but there are still some questions to answer in the bullpen.
Right now, David Robertson is going to be the Yankees’ closer, with Shawn Kelley being the setup man — by default, not by choice. After that, you’ll have Matt Thornton and Preston Claiborne, and everything else is pretty much up for grabs.
An interesting name that could be out there on the trade market is Drew Storen of the Washington Nationals.
Brian Cashman drafted Storen in the 34th round of the 2007 draft, but couldn’t get any deal done to sign him. If Cashman still likes his as a pitcher, it would almost be a no-brainer to at least make a call to Washington to gauge was the asking price is there.
If the Yankees can work something out to acquire him, Storen would give them a great late-inning arm that they’re looking for, and could possibly be the 8th inning setup man for Robertson.
There are also a few low-risk, high-reward players out there that the Yankees could take a look at, and it wouldn’t hurt them at all to do so.
Joel Hanrahan was an All-Star closer with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, then got hurt after being traded to the Boston Red Sox last winter. He had to undergo Tommy John Surgery last season, and is expected to workout for teams in the spring, suggesting that he is ahead of schedule, and could be ready to get back in the majors early in the season.
If you ask me, it wouldn’t do any harm to sign him on a minor league deal, let him spend some time in Triple-A Scranton while he gets his groove back, and hope that he comes back just as good as he was while in Pittsburgh.
I’ve also mentioned this offseason that a guy like Andrew Bailey, who was great while with the Oakland Athletics a few years ago before coming to Boston as a possibility. Mitchell Boggs was a solid reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, but was a terrible 2013. Maybe you sign one of them and hope they bounce back under pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
The Yankees have spent almost half a billion, with a “b,” on free-agents this offseason. The original goal was to stay under $189 million, but missing out on the playoffs last season made that hard to take serious. But even after all of that spending, the Yankees still have a couple important holes that need to be filled before the season starts.
It might not be easy to fill those holes, but if things turn out like they have the rest of this offseason, the Yankees shouldn’t have any trouble buying the players they need.