Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners shocked the baseball world when the two sides agreed to a 10-year contract worth $240 million on Friday. The move ends the second baseman’s nine seasons with the New York Yankees.
As Cano heads out west, the Yankees will have to make a few moves to make up the loss of their best player. In 2012, New York missed the playoffs by 6.5 games and sported one of the worst offenses in baseball. Now, they’ve lost their top hitter, and the player that led them in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
The Yankees have already signed a few of the best free agents this offseason, making offers to Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann that totaled $238 million. Still, there are a few things the Yankees must do if they want to compete for a World Series title in 2014.
Trade Brett Gardner
Now that the Yankees have Ellsbury locked up, the team has a surplus of outfielders. Besides the newest signee, Brett Gardner, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano are all on the roster. Even as Curtis Granderson reportedly inks a deal with the New York Mets, the Yankees can more than afford to trade one of their outfielders.
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Losing Cano isn’t the only reason why the Yankees need help in the infield. Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire upcoming season because of a PED-related suspension, and Derek Jeter is a 39-year-old that’s coming off an injury-riddled year. The Yankees have marginal players like Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez that can play at first base, but they’ll need a much more productive hitter if they want to compete in the AL East.
Moving Gardner could help the Yankees get an impact infielder. There have been rumors that club is trying to trade the outfielder for Brandon Phillips. The Cincinnati Reds may not be looking to move the second baseman, but his production dropped somewhat in 2013, and he could become attainable at the right price. A trade suggested by ESPN’s Adam Rubin would also make sense for both New York teams. Second baseman Daniel Murphy has hit over .285 in each of the last three seasons, and Gardner could be a good fit with the Mets.
Sign Another Free Agent Bat
The Yankees have already added a few big hitters in free agency, but that doesn’t mean they are done in that department. The team brought in Ellsbury and McCann, but they also lost Cano and Granderson. Granderson was hurt for much of 2013, but the two hitters combined for 76 home runs in 2012. Last season, only three teams had a worse slugging percentage than New York, so their offense is still a long way from where it needs to be.
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are being considered by the Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of CBS sports. Choo’s ability to hit for average, power and steal bases makes him an attractive commodity. He’s only 31 years old and could be a staple in New York’s outfield for years to come. Having already handed out a few large contracts, though, Beltran might be a more reasonable option. At age 36, the veteran is likely to command a contract that is half the size of Choo’s, worth close to $50 million. In his 15th season, Beltran was one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ best hitters, registering a .396 batting average and a .491 slugging percentage.
Even though the team has plenty of outfielders, they could make it work with Choo or Beltran on the roster. Soriano is known for being a terrible defender, and he could get most of his at-bats as a designated hitter. Wells had a .282 OBP last season, and he might not see much time in the lineup.
Add A Starting Pitcher
New York's most glaring weakness may be on offense, but their rotation needs help, as well. The Yankees are close to re-signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contact, but they’re still in need of reliable starters. With the departure of Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, the club needs to fill out the rest of the rotation.
If C.C. Sabathia can return to his old form, the Yankees aren’t in need of a top pitcher. That’s a major question mark, though, considering the veteran had the worst ERA of his career in 2013. Sabathia, Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda should be in the rotation, leaving room for the organization to add one or two more starters.
Bronson Arroyo, one of the best free agent pitchers available, has been linked to the Yankees. The right-hander has been very consistent in recent seasons, recording an ERA below 4.00 in four of the last five years. Arroyo will be 37 on opening day, so he won’t command a long-term deal.
George King of the New York Post has reported that Ubaldo Jimenez is on the team’s radar. In 2011, there were rumors that New York might look to trade for the pitcher. He was eventually dealt to the Cleveland Indians, where his performance dramatically decreased. Jimenez bounced back in 2013, however, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA.