Offseason Outlook: New York Yankees

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Yankees. Their likely 2009 commitments:

C – Jorge Posada – $13.1MM
C – Jose Molina – $2MM
1B –
2B – Robinson Cano – $6MM
SS – Derek Jeter – $20MM
3B – Alex Rodriguez – $32MM
IF – Wilson Betemit – $1.165MM+
IF – Cody Ransom – $400K
LF – Johnny Damon – $13MM
CF – Brett Gardner – $400K
RF – Xavier Nady – $3.35MM+
OF – Melky Cabrera – $462K
DH – Hideki Matsui – $13MM

SP – Chien-Ming Wang – $4MM+
SP – Joba Chamberlain – $400K
SP – Phil Hughes – $407K
SP – Ian Kennedy – $400K
SP – Alfredo Aceves – $400K

RP – Mariano Rivera – $15MM
RP – Damaso Marte – $6MM club option ($250K buyout)
RP – Brian Bruney – $725K+
RP – Jose Veras – $400K
RP – Edwar Ramirez – $400K
RP – Phil Coke – $400K
RP – Mark Melancon – $400K

Buyouts: Jason Giambi – $5MM, Carl Pavano – $1.95MM

Other commitments: Andrew Brackman – $1.1375MM, Juan Miranda – $400K

The Yankees are a bit over $140MM before arbitration raises to Betemit, Nady, Wang, and Bruney.  Maybe after those they’re near $150MM for current players (if Marte’s option is exercised).  Will the Yankees really slash payroll all the way to the $180MM range?  Brian Cashman would still be able to add $30MM in ’09 salaries, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he has more than that.

Jon Heyman says the Yankees want to sign two free agent starters out of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe.  If they land their top target, Sabathia, then Lowe seems more likely than Burnett.  It’d be an ’09 rotation with Hughes, Kennedy, and others battling for one spot.  If Mike Mussina or Andy Pettitte can be re-signed, Joba can slot in fifth and get extra days off.  Depth would be excellent, but signing three starters, each for $12MM or more, could eat up most of the spending money.

The two other much-discussed holes are first base and center field.  Cashman has spoken about wanting a regular first baseman as opposed to shuttling in Posada, Damon, and Matsui.  Possibly available regulars at first base: Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche, Mike Jacobs, and Hank Blalock.  The list could expand in coming months.  I do not see the Yanks trading Hughes for Fielder, if some permutation of that deal is available.

If the Yankees somehow sign Sabathia, Teixeira, and another starter, they’ll be looking fantastic for 2009.  It could be done if payroll is in the $200-210MM range again.  Sure, Cano should be better, Matsui and Posada hopefully healthy.  But Abreu could be replaced with Nady and Giambi seems gone.  Tex would add stability, though he has to be seen as a luxury. 

The market for center fielders, whether via free agency or trade, is poor.  It makes sense to see if one of the internal options emerges as a tolerable regular (Gardner, Cabrera, Austin Jackson).  As alluded to earlier, Abreu will probably be offered arbitration, decline, and sign elsewhere (leaving Nady as the right fielder).

The pen doesn’t seem like a major need; Marte on the equivalent of a one-year, $5.75MM deal is reasonable.  Joe at River Ave. Blues tells me Melancon is likely to snag a spot. 

Bottom line: it looks like most of the money will be spent on starting pitching, but Teixeira would sure look nice in pinstripes.

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