The New York Yankees 2012 MLB season ended in disappointment, as they were swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. The Bronx Bombers went down quietly, and an injured Derek Jeter watched his teammates set records in playoff futility.
But postseason pain can be easily remedied by offseason moves. Some teams have already made deals, as a busy winter awaits many general managers.
The Yankees have a number of players with expiring contracts, and Brian Cashman appears set to make multiple moves to improve the roster in 2013.
Here are five players that are on New York’s radar, as they prepare for a World Series run:
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The Yankees will have to address their outfield this offseason. Brett Gardner is set to return, while Curtis Granderson is entering the final year of his contract, leaving an open spot in right field. Hunter may be the perfect player to fill that role.
Hunter is in the latter part of his career, but remains a very productive hitter and fielder. In 2012, he had the highest batting average of his career, hitting over .300 for the first time. His statistics have been very consistent over the past few years, averaging 21 home runs and 88.5 RBI in the last four seasons.
With the Los Angeles Angels refusing to make Hunter an offer last week, the center fielder is now a free agent. Hunter turns 38 in July, and is not expected to command a lengthy contract. New York can offer Hunter a short-term deal, and get similar production that they’ve received in right field over the past few seasons.
Nick Swisher is not expected to return with the club. Hunter can replace him for a much cheaper price, while providing better defense and perhaps better batting numbers. Ichiro Suzuki has expressed interest in rejoining the Yankees, but he will likely split time with Gardner in left.
Rafael Soriano was one of the Yankees most valuable players this past season. The reliever took over as New York’s closer when Mariano Rivera went down for the year with a torn ACL. Soriano saved 42 games in 2012 and helped vault the Yankees to the AL East crown.
With his big season, Soriano chose to opt out of his contract and try to land a bigger deal on the free-agent market. Rivera reportedly has told the club that he’ll return as the closer in 2013. But the Yankees still need a set-up man to replace Soriano.
Joakim Soria has expressed interest in coming to The Bronx. If the Yankees can’t bring back Soriano, Soria might be the next best fit. He has plenty of experience as a closer, saving 160 games with the Kansas City Royals. If the 42-year old Rivera has more injury troubles, Soria can step right into the closer role.
Soria is coming off Tommy John surgery, and might not be ready to pitch until June. The injury may help New York land a top-notch reliever at a discount price. As long as he’s ready for the playoffs, signing Soria might be a great move for New York.
The chances of Greinke coming to New York are slim. He’s had bouts with anxiety, and the Yankees are reportedly worried about how the pitcher would handle the Big Apple. Still, the organization will at least look into pursuing arguably the best available starter.
Greinke has played for three different teams in the past three years, and has thrived with each club. In 2012, he pitched to a 3.48 ERA with both the Milwaukee Brewers and Angels. He won the AL Cy Young Award with the Royals in 2009.
New York’s starting rotation is a big question mark heading into 2013. Other than C.C. Sabathia, there is not much the Yankees can rely on. Huroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are both free agents, with a combined age of 77 years old. Ivan Nova lost his place in the rotation with a 5.02 earned-run average, and Phil Hughes has struggled with consistency.
Kansas City and Milwaukee aren’t very big cities, but Greinke had some success in Los Angeles, where he had a 3.53 ERA in almost 90 innings. Greinke's efforts in L.A. might be enough to convince the Yankees that he can be just as good in New York.
The Yankees need a catcher next season, and Martin is the most likely candidate for the job. Martin earned $7.5 million in 2012, and is a free agent.
Hal Steinbrenner has made it known that he wants the team to lower its payroll in the coming years. If the Yankees want to avoid paying a lot of money in luxury taxes, they can’t afford a high-priced catcher.
Martin struggled last year, batting .211 in 133 games. He was able to provide some power, hitting 21 home runs. The Yankees have a few promising catchers in the minor leagues, but neither Austin Romine nor Gary Sanchez appears ready for a starting role in 2013. Martin is good enough to hold down the fort next season.
Alex Rodriguez is currently on the Yankees, but New York would like to change that. Cashman has admitted that the organization would listen to trade offers for the aging star. The team owes the third baseman $114 million over the next five years, due to the worst contract in baseball.
Rodriguez is owed so much on his remaining contract that he lacks trade value. After being benched three times in the postseason, he is no longer an over-priced superstar. There is now the question of whether or not Rodriguez can be an effective everyday player.
If the Yankees are able to find a team that believes Rodriguez’s .120 playoff average was an aberration, they will either have to pay the majority of his salary, or take back another bad contract.
The Miami Marlins have been rumored to have interest in Rodriguez. Television anchor Keith Olbermann reported that the two teams have had discussions about a potential deal. Reliever Heath Bell would go to the Yankees, with New York paying a majority of Rodriguez’s contract.
As much as New York would like to get rid of Rodriguez, it’s unlikely that another team will trade for him.