Next year? OF could be the priority

Tim Dierkes of MLBTR has a list of free agents after the 2009 season. In looking at the list, here are my thoughts. Dierkes bolded the Boras agents and put the 2010 age of the free agents on his list.

Jose Molina will become a free agent, and he’d turn 35 in 2010. Posada will be 38 by then already, meaning the Yanks would have to re-sign Jose, hope Cervelli is ready or get another backup C. Victor Martinez has a $7M club option with a $250K buyout. I’d expect Cleveland to pick that up. However Brian Schneider, at 33, could be a free agent after 2009. Schneider is from my hometown, having graduated from my town’s high school (my alma mater). Should the Yanks not get Jose back, Schneider could be a decent backup, and a backup in 2010 may be used more due to Posada’s age. Schneider doesn’t hit much (.253, OPS+ 83) but is known as a fine defensive catcher who calls a good game. He is a lefty bat. By contrast, Jose is a righty bat, .237 and an OPS+ of 61.

I don’t see the Yanks doing much around the infield, even with the advanced ages of A-Rod (35, July 2010) and Jeter (36 in June 2010). Nick Johnson could be a FA after 2009, but his repeated injuries diminish his worth greatly. He’d be 31 but a huge risk. Brian Roberts, who I always have liked (but who had Mitchell Report issues) would be 32, and who knows if those Cubs/Orioles talks get renewed. There is no need for him unless you are moving Cano however.

Chone Figgins is listed at 3B, where the Yanks have no need for him, but Figgins, as we know, could play CF. The Yanks could be losing Damon, Matsui AND Nady after 2009. Would A-Jax be ready for 2010? Various factors come into play here. Would Damon bolt, leaving the Yanks needing a leadoff hitter? How will Melky, A-Jax or Gardner’s 2009 seasons be? Figgins would be 32. 96 OPS+ but good for a nice number of steals when healthy. Worth a look depending on various factors.

The outfield is the biggest question after 2009. As stated, Damon, Nady and Matsui become free agents, with Damon and Matsui 36 in 2010. Possible replacements include Jason Bay (probably re-signed by Boston?), Carl Crawford ($10M club option with a $1.25M buyout by Tampa), Matt Holliday, Rick Ankiel, Jermaine Dye, Bad Vlad, Magglio Ordonez and Jayson Werth. DH types are for the most part too old. Sheff and Thome. We’ve gone through Sheff before. Thome would be 39. Ah, to have had that lefty power bat in his prime. Also bringing the age factor into them are Damon and Matsui, Dye and Ordonez (all 36 in 2010). Vlad would be 34. As for re-signing Nady or chasing Werth, both would be 31 in 2010. 

Suppose you want Miguel Tejada with the intent of using the DH/SS spot for him and Jeter. Both would be the same age, 36 in 2010. Tejada has some baggage and is fading however.

Now for pitching. Beckett has a $12M club option with a $2M buyout. Expect Boston to pick up that option. Lackey could be available. But if Pettitte is signed to a one-year deal and wants to retire after 2009, would Hughes or Kennedy then be ready? Lackey would be 31. Brett Myers would be available also, but I’m not a Myers fan for various reasons. Brandon Webb would be 31 but has a $8.5M option with a $500K buyout.

As for relief, Putz would have a $8.6M option with a $1M buyout from the Mets. Wagner would be 38 and coming off a missed year. The only relief pitcher on the list that looks interesting to me is Ryan Madson of the Phils, who would be 29.

No one else really excites me right now. It doesn’t look like a major class. I’m looking at need, who I’d like, and who is available. So I see backup C with maybe Schneider, and OF with the emphasis then being on Matt Holliday, maybe Ankiel, Vlad or Crawford if available or maybe even Figgins depending on the CF situation (Melky, A-Jax, Gardner). A lot depends on who, if any, the Yanks would want to bring back from the trio of Damon, Matsui and Nady.

So if you are looking at a big ticket free agent signing for the Yanks a year from now, I’d guess Holliday. We” see how he adjusts in 2009 to the AL and being out of Colorado. We’ve seen with CC how the “recruiting phase”, like college football, starts early. You can’t tamper, but how do the Yanks start the “recruitment phase” with Holliday now to lay the seeds for a successful free agent signing a year from now?

Looking at the list from the link, what thoughts do you have?  



4 responses to “Next year? OF could be the priority

  1. If I were Cashman, a top priority for the Yanks next off-season would be Carl Crawford. [Full Disclosure: I am president and charter member of the fledgling organization, Yankee Fans for Carl Crawford.] Not only is he very good offensively and defensively. He would also add a super-fast multi-tool player to help make the Yankees not only younger, but faster–something we’ve clamored for. Speed kills. I’d put him up high. Holliday would be nice and has righty power, but we’ve discussed at length the concerns about how well his power numbers would translate to Yankee Stadium.

    I’d love to grab Brandon Webb or John Lackey, but I doubt that the Yankees would assemble a staff of three (or more) long-term, highly expensive free-agent pitching acquisitions. The best-case scenario is that Hughes would be ready. Nor am I a fan of Myers, who slugged his wife in public during a drunken fit. NO THANKS.

    I thought the same thing after looking over the list, Mike–not exactly a bumper crop.

  2. On Crawford, I’m not keen on his historically low OBP (.330). However, I’d make two points about that. The first is that it steadily improved before his injury-filled 2008. The second is that I’d be keenly interested to see how Crawford would hit and approach at-bats in a better lineup than what had surrounded Crawford for much of his Rays career.

    Signing Crawford at the age of 28 would be like getting a less-experienced and less patient, but much speedier Damon with as much power. Here at the YFCC, we don’t want to shuffle Damon out the door by any means. Yet Crawford has lots of upside, including stealing lots of bases at a very high career clip (82.5% career success rate).

  3. Sorry for the repetitious use of the word “keen.” At least I didn’t write “peachy” before it.

    The Celtics have won 18 straight, in the process tying the NBA record for the best start after 28 games. Outstanding.

  4. I didn’t write it, but you probably read between the lines why I didn’t want Myers. For one, the very reason you state.

    Agreed. You have to keep spots open for Hughes, Kennedy and others to progress (I’m looking down the road at a McAllister, Betances, Brackman). So Lackey, Webb, etc. are most likely out. I like what someone wrote of Sheets—that he is now off the Yanks list because the Yanks now have their “risk.” Meaning Burnett.

    Jason, you and “Uncle Joe” could have a Crawford lovefest. Joe loves the guy, and I have to say I’d love him too. It depends if Tampa picks up that option or not. It’s why I wrote a bit more of Holliday rather than Crawford. The assumption that Tampa would pick it up. Of course if they don’t…

    I know. I shouldn’t assume. But if I am Tampa, I figure $10M is quite reasonable for someone like Crawford, who was the “face of the franchise” for some really bad Tampa teams.

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