Friday, November 29, 2013

Yankees 2013-14 Offseason Expectations

I'm late on this post considering the Yankees have already signed Brian McCann and there have been several significant free agent signing, but here are a few transactions I expect from the Yankees this offseason. (And a predicted depth chart for the 2014 Season).

First, I expect the Yankees to resign Robinson Cano. The question is for how much? Based on the contracts signed by Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, and Buster Posey, I expect Cano to sign a deal worth approximately $25 million guaranteed plus bonuses. The latest offer from the Yankees (according to ESPN) was $160 million over 7 years. Cano's representatives are seeking a 10 year deal worth $310 million. If you subtract 3 years (and $31 million per year) off Cano's asking price, then that becomes an asking of $217 million over 7 years. The midway point between this offer and the Yankees' initial over is $188.5 million over 7 years which is about $27 million per year which is very close to the $25 million plus bonuses which I suggested earlier.

Second, the Yankees can reach Hal Steinbrenner's goal of a payroll below $189 million to avoid the excess luxury tax. This is especially attainable considering Alex Rodriguez's $28 million salary is unlikely to be accounted for as a result of his likely suspension for next season. Excluding A-Rod's salary and including McCann's as well as the other signings, the Yankees have approximately $117.9 million of guaranteed player salaries. If the Yankees agree to terms with most of the following players: Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Huff, Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne, and Vidal Nuno (which is likely considering arbitration is still in option for most of these players), then the approximate guaranteed payroll should be more than $134 million. I think $141 million is a closer approximation factoring pay-raises (possibly $146 million if Yankees' GM Brian Cashman is feeling particularly generous this offseason). This estimate leaves the Yankees with at least $45 million to spend and the following depth chart:

C  McCann 17 1 Gardner L
1B Teixeira 22.5 2 Jeter R
2B Cano 27 3 Cano L
3B 4 Soriano R
SS Jeter 12 5 McCann L
LF Soriano 5 6 Teixeira S
CF Gardner 2.85+ 7 Wells R
RF Suzuki 6.5 8
DH Wells 2.4 9 Suzuki L

BN Nix 0.9+
BN Nunez 0.5333+
BN Stewart 0.5151+ / Cervelli .515+ / Sanchez
BN Ryan 2.5
Other Considerations: Almonte / Mesa / Williams / Heathcott / Austin

SP Sabathia 23 L
SP Nova 0.5756+ R
SP Pineda 0.528+ R
SP Phelps 0.512+ R
SP

CL Robertson 3.1+ R
RP Logan 3.15+ L
RP Kelley 0.935+ R
RP Warren 0.490+ R
RP Claiborne R
RP Huff 0.494+ 
RP Betances 
Other Considerations: Nuno L / Matt Daley R / Cesar Cabral L

This leaves the Yankees with a few holes which I will address in this third section regarding on possible resignings. The two other free agents who the Yankees gave qualifying offers to were Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson. If Kuroda decides to play next season in the MLB, then the Yankees should be sure to resign him; I'd expect an offer of about $15 million for one deal (similar to the qualifying offer). Should Kuroda not resign with the Yankees, an offer in the same per year range should be offered to the remaining marquee starting pitchers in the free agent pool. (A few remaining free agent SPs deserving consideration are Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, and Bartolo Colon). Financially, the Yankees can feasibly resign Granderson to an overpriced deal and still achieve their financial objective for this season though it may put future financial goals in jeopardy. I think the most prudent approach to handling Granderson is to allow him to test the free agent market and to resign him if the organization feels that his market price is fair and that none of the outfield prospects are ready to play at the MLB level this season.

Now assuming the Yankees sign a starting pitcher and Curtis Granderson to deal paying about $15 million in the upcoming season, then that leaves about $15 million for the Yankees to allocate towards additional free agents to upgrade the roster and a better hitting third baseman. Two obvious considerations for third base are Kevin Youkillis and Mark Reynolds - both who were on the Yankees' roster last season. A few other players who may receive consideration are Juan Uribe, Michael Young, and Eric Chavez. Chavez had a successful stint with the Yankees recently, so I would not be surprised to see him back with the organization.

Given all this, the Yankees still have the capacity to improve pitching. I think the bullpen will see one or two additions with Robertson, Logan, Kelley, and Warren being the only four relievers I am very confident will be in the Yankees' bullpen. Of these I expect Robertson to receive first chance at the closer role with Logan receiving the second chance. Another consideration is Phelps' role on the time. I expect him to be tested again as a starter, but if the Yankees are dissatisfied with his performance, then moving him to the bullpen and acquiring a starting pitcher is very feasible. Moreover, if the Yankees' determine that Phelps is better suited for the bullpen, then some bullpen-upgrade allocation could be redistributed to acquiring another starting pitchers. It's very feasible for the Yankees to sign two of the remaining starting pitchers who I referenced earlier if Granderson is not resigned or if the team decides to start a current Yankee capable of playing third base as opposed to signing one. A depth chart with lofty expectations could look like this:

C  McCann 17 1 Gardner L
1B Teixeira 22.5 2 Jeter R
2B Cano 27 3 Cano L
3B Ryan 2.5 4 Soriano R
SS Jeter 12 5 McCann L
LF Granderson 15 6 Teixeira S
CF Gardner 2.85+ 7 Granderson L
RF Suzuki 6.5 8 Ryan R
DH Soriano 5 9 Suzuki L

BN Nix 0.9+
BN Nunez 0.5333+
BN Stewart 0.5151+ / Cervelli .515+ / Sanchez
BN Wells 2.4

SP Sabathia 23 L
SP Nova 0.5756+ R
SP Pineda 0.528+ R
SP Santana 15 R
SP Garza 15 R

CL Robertson 3.1+ R
RP Logan 3.15+ L
RP Kelley 0.935+ R
RP Warren 0.490+ R
RP Phelps 0.512+ R
RP Claiborne R
RP Nuno   L

An obvious omission from this expectation is a consideration of the effects of bonuses on luxury tax status. If bonuses do not affect luxury tax status, then such a roster is feasible. Another omission is how the salaries of the 15 players on the 40 man roster (but not on the 25 man active roster) affects the luxury tax status. The likely effect of such an omission is that the Yankees would be unable to sign both of the free agent SPs which I included in the lofty expectations. A more feasible outcome is that only one is sign and the $15 million used on the other starter would be allocated on assuring bonuses and non-active players were considered for the luxury tax. In this scenario, any remaining portion of the budget could be used on a SP with a lower market price. Another scenario would be signing two marquee SP and promoting an outfield prospect instead of resigning Granderson. 

A humorous consideration regarding this previous paragraph is that it assumes the Yankees are very strict on limiting their payroll to $189 million. If such an assumption is relaxed, then the payroll objective would only be exceeded by the summation of the bonuses and non-active players in the lofty depth chart model.

Another assumption I made was that Alex Rodriguez would remain suspended for the entirety of this season. If he is not, then the Yankees' cannot be as ambitious during the offseason as I have suggested; however, A-Rod being suspended for less than the duration of next season would be very surprising to me.

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