Sunday, June 1, 2014

What Could A 2015 New York Yankees Squad Look Like?

It has been literally months since I've posted, so: we're back!

While the 2014 season is only 1/3 of the way through, you can never put enough effort into future teams and what they can look like. This season has dictated some future glaring needs for the New York Yankees: some more stable starting pitching, and - most importantly - a stable, consistent, actually able to play defense infield. The Yankees always have money to burn, but let's take a look at who's coming off the books, and who can be fitting replacements.

Coming off the Books: These players are free agents after 2014:

  • Alfonso Soriano, $19,000,000 (Not all paid by NYY)
  • Hiroki Kuroda, $16,000,000
  • Derek Jeter, $12,000,000
  • Ichiro Suzuki, $6,500,000
  • David Robertson, $5,215,000
  • Kelly Johnson, $3,000,000
  • Brian Roberts, $2,000,000
A total of about $64,000,000 coming off the books. There are some glaring holes, and with some wishful thinking in regards to the current roster (staying healthy and/or productive), the Yankees should be able to fill some current positions relatively easily.

  1. C, Brian McCann
  2. 1B, Mark Teixeira
  3. 2B, Yangervis Solarte
  4. SS, JJ Hardy
  5. 3B, Chase Headley
McCann is going nowhere, neither is Teixeira. Recall the wishful thinking part you just read? Mainly in regards to Solarte continuing to hit. With a weak 2B free agent class and only one decent prospect pushing him (Rob Refsnyder, currently red hot at AA Trenton and destined for AAA Scranton soon), Solarte can hold on to the 2B gig. I really see the Yankees pushing for Hardy and Headley. Hardy and Headley are rock-solid defenders and when at the top of their game offensively, power and batting average threats. Unfortunately, they'll cost about half of the money coming up free. I can see 3/$45 for Hardy and 5/$80 for Headley. SS and 3B do have some intriguing FA's (Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Pablo Sandoval, Yunel Escobar all possibilities) but Hanley is a likely Dodgers re-signing, Sandoval's weight is an issue, Escobar is an off the field concern, Cabrera has declined big time and Lowrie is an injury risk. 

  1. LF, Brett Gardner
  2. CF, Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF, Zoilo Almonte/Ramon Flores
  4. DH, Carlos Beltran
Gardner and Ellsbury aren't going anywhere for the next few seasons. The free agent OF class is more or less okay: Nori Aoki, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Mike Morse, Colby Rasmus and Nate Schierholtz as top options. Do the Yankees want to lock up 4 OF in big contracts? Tough to say with a multitude of OF prospects coming through the system. Save some money and let Zoilo Almonte and AAA prospect Ramon Flores battle it out with the loser as the 4th OF.

  1. C, John Ryan Murphy
  2. INF, Brendan Ryan
  3. INF, Dean Anna
  4. OF, Ramon Flores/Zoilo Almonte
Self-explanatory bench. Ryan is under contract. Anna gets a full time bench gig. Murphy slowly works into a regular role as do Flores or Almonte.

Starting Pitching
  1. Masahiro Tanaka
  2. CC Sabathia
  3. Justin Masterson
  4. Michael Pineda
  5. Ivan Nova
Tanaka is a boss. Sabathia's contract says he's going nowhere fast. How the rest of the rotation plays out depends on health and how much money the Yankees dump on starting pitching. The Yankees would have enough for 2 SP's if they do not want to bring back Robertson as a closer. They'll have to add payroll. On the plus side, not many future free agents after 2015: they can shop for 2 seasons. On the downside, Pineda and Nova are no bets for 60 combined starts and 400 innings. They'll have some internal depth with David Phelps, Chase Whitley and Manny Banuelos (again, if all goes well). I prefer Justin Masterson over some other names for the fact that he's cheaper and has more years left than say, James Shields. Max Scherzer and Jon Lester will cost too much for a decent return. Shields and Peavy's arms will probably fall off like Sabathia's. Brandon McCarthy is a bad fit. Josh Beckett is hurt and inconsistent too much. That leaves Hisashi Iwakuma and Jason Hammel as my top two options. Iwakuma would be a nice fit with Tanaka and Masterson up top.

  1. Closer, David Robertson
  2. Set-Up, Shawn Kelley
  3. Set-Up, Dellin Betances
  4. Set-Up, Adam Warren
  5. Set-Up, Chase Whitley
  6. LHS, Matt Thornton
  7. Long Relief, David Phelps
I predict the Yankees re-sign Robertson. Even with Kelley and Betances able to step in and likely succeed as a closer, and a plethora of relief pitching at AAA Scranton, you stick with the proven commodity. The rest of the bullpen has been rock solid this year and returns next year.

The Yankees can bring in 4-5 free agents with the expiring contracts and get younger, more productive. With the farm system having a better season than last, the Yankees can set themselves up for the future with some solid off-season decisions during the 2014/15 Hot Stove.

Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

(Baseball Prospectus was used for a source for upcoming free agents).