Wednesday, February 13, 2013
If the Yankees falter early
By Jason A. Churchill
As Colonel Slade so aptly put it, things are just getting warmed up for Major League Baseball. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp this week and full-squad workouts aren't far behind, so the trade deadline and its potential participants are months away. It's never too early to speculate and discuss, however, and the New York Post's Joel Sherman ignited the fire, at least for Rumor Central, Wednesday.
Sherman writes that the New York Yankees may have less margin for error than they have had in years and the lack of depth and plethora of questions could spell the end of an era. Sherman is probably right, which could lead to the club selling at the deadline for the first time since... well, it seems they never have done so. Again, we're skipping beyond spring training, 90-some games and making some assumptions. But since when has the what-if game been off limits?
If the ultra-competitive American League East buries the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman finds himself in the unfamiliar position to sell, the club could acquire some future help by entertaining offers for free-agents-to-be Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Kevin Youkilis. Kuroda had a no-trade clause in his first one-year deal with the Yankees, but it's unclear whether or not the same provision was added to his 2013 contract.
Others that could be shopped include Ichiro Suzuki, Travis Hafner and Boone Logan. Logan, a solid left-handed reliever, is starting to get expensive -- he'll earn just over $3 million in 2013 and is scheduled to become a free agent at season's end -- suggesting the Yankees could move on and spend their money elsewhere. Right-hander David Robertson may be the club's next closer -- if Mariano Rivera retires after the season -- but he's also becoming pricey and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining. He could earn more than $6 million in 2014 -- cheap for a closer, expensive if he's the setup man -- and relievers are always valued greatly in July.
Granderson may be the most likely to go if the Yankees find themselves selling this coming summer, and any number of clubs could see value in acquiring him. The Texas Rangers, as they stand now, are without a proven commodity in center field and could have interest. The Reds' experiment with Shin-Soo Choo in center could provoke such interest from GM Walt Jocketty. Any club that suffers a key injury could covet Granderson, and he could be a fit in left field for clubs needing offense that have a stalwart in place in center.
Star second baseman Robinson Cano is scheduled for free agency after the season, too, but good luck finding anyone who believes the Yankees would consider trading him without exhausting all avenues to sign him long term.
Of course, it's entirely possible, perhaps even more likely, that enough of the Yankees' veterans stay healthy and play well, and the 27-time World Series Champions could be buyers, if anything, at the deadline, hang on to their veterans and make a run in October.
Jim BowdenYankees' worst offseason?
"This might have been the Yankees’ worst offseason in the past decade, between the departures of Rafael Soriano, Russell Martin and Swisher, as well as Alex Rodriguez’s hip surgery and more PED accusations. Signing Youkilis and Hafner might help a little, as will Mariano Rivera’s return from a knee injury. At least on paper, the Yankees went from a 95-win team to an 85-90 win team this offseason."