With the offseason just getting underway, the New York Yankees start the hot stove period with no glaring needs, thanks to general manager Brian Cashman finishing the team’s first offseason priority; resigning CC Sabathia so he will retire as a Yankee. Now that a disaster was avoided there, the Yankees have relatively the same lineup going forward to the 2012 season. However, as shown by the first-round playoff loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees still have some acquisitions and resignings they need to make. Here, in my opinion, are the moves that are most important for the Yanks this offseason.
The Yankees need to find one more starter. CC Sabathia is obviously an ace and Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett, and Phil Hughes all look great as 3, 4, and 5 starters, respectively, but that leaves a glaring hole in the #2 spot. As shown by the loss to the Tigers, a five-game series clearly does not benefit these five starters. Freddy Garcia could be a nice, cheap option, but there is room in the budget to acquire another big time starter. The big name in free agency is CJ Wilson (whom, among others, Brian Cashman plans to target), but his shaky performance in the 2011 playoffs has to raise some red flags. The Yankees do not need a starter with a career 1-5 record with a 4.92 ERA in the playoffs, but he is the best option available. Ten starts is a relatively small sample size, but these ten playoff starts need to be closely evaluated when looking at who will be in this rotation. The rest of the free agent market is littered with questions about durability and age, from Roy Oswalt to Mark Buehrle to Hiroki Kuroda. The bottom line is, these guys are free agents for a reason.
Another option for the Yankees is to make a splash in the trade market. Names linked to the Yankees thus far have been Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Felix Hernandez. All of these names are much more impressive than those above, but the price would be too much for a starter of this caliber. I can’t see a team willing to trade any of the aforementioned players for anything less than a package that would include Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova.
Also, I’d like to see Cashman resign those who are arbitration eligible. I’m looking directly at Brett Gardner and Russell Martin. I’ll start on one of my favorite players, Brett Gardner. Just so I can get it out of my system, it is an absolute crime that Brett did not win the Gold Glove last season. The reasons why he deserved so are worthy of an article in itself, but he is a player who does all of the little things right. Last year, it was widely speculated that the Yankees could target Carl Crawford – but for the amount of money owed to Crawford vs. the amount of Brett’s new contract, I’ll take Gardner any day of the week. He’s the perfect nine-hole batter, and his speed and defense are simply invaluable to the team. Pay the man.
As tricky as it may get, I would love to see Russell Martin in pinstripes for another year or two. He’s another player whose batting line isn’t the reason he’s so valuable, but his defense. He reminds me of a hockey goalie behind home plate, which is necessary with AJ Burnett’s erratic curveball. Also, he can provide enough pop (18 HRs in 2011) to suffice. It may be tricky, because the Yankees got him on the cheap last year because of injury concerns. He quelled those questions in 2011, playing 125 games and staying relatively healthy. Martin really is the perfect defensive mentor for the inexperienced phenom Jesus Montero, so I’d feel much more comfortable with him behind the dish in 2012. If another team doesn’t come along with a multi-year deal, I can see the Yankees having the same batting lineup in 2012.
What do you think the Yankees need to do to ensure another division title in 2012?