The Yankees season ended in a disappointing manor; they missed the playoffs. But the future for the Bronx Bombers could be more gloom. Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte have officially retired from the Yankees. The loss of Rivera is far more impact full on the Yankees than the loss of Pettitte. Pettitte hasn’t been the same pitcher he once was; he’s been solid at times, but far from consistent. Despite being 43 years old, Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball, and no one doubts that he could still pitch next year.
The Yankees will need to find themselves a new closer, regardless how good their new one is, he can never be as good as Rivera. A lot of people say their new closer could be someone already on their roster; David Robertson. Robertson has filled in as a closer at times for the Yankees. If he is chosen as their next closer, the Yankees will lose him in the 8th inning, where he was dominate. So they would plug one hole, but open another.
The Yankees’ starting rotation has a lot of questions as well. CC Sabathia will still be their ace, despite having a horrible season. No chance Sabathia could have another season as bad as the one he just had. Ivan Nova had a strong season, the Yankees will hope he can carry that over to next season, as their potential number two starter. Hiroki Kuroda had two very good seasons in New York, but he is a costless agent. It’s unclear if the Yankees will try to resign Kuroda and if they do, how much they would be willing to commit to a starter that will be 39 years old on opening day. There are some good pitchers that will be available in costless agency this off-season; Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Tim Lincecum, and Bartolo Colon. Yankees need to sign a starter this off-season, but the key for them is not to overpay and lock themselves into another bad contract. I could see Matt Garza being a good fit for them; he used to pitch in the AL East with the Rays and had a good amount of success. Garza is a good starter that constantly gets overlooked.
Perhaps the Yankees’ biggest off-season concern is Robinson Cano. Cano has been the Yankees’ best hitter for the past few seasons, and now it’s time for him to get paid. Cano is the best costless agent this off-season and the Yankees can’t afford to lose him. There were reports that Cano could be looking for a contract worth over $300 million. There is no way that the Yankees will pay Cano that much money. As great as Cano is, he will be turning 31 soon, and to sign him to a contract that big wouldn’t be smart. Robinson Cano could realistically sign a new contract anywhere in the area of $180 million - $225 million. Curtis Granderson is also a costless agent this summer, he missed most of this season with an injury. But in the two previous seasons, he did hit over 40 home runs and drove in over 100 RBI for the Yankees in each.
The Yankees are a team that is drastically aging, and they aren’t aging well. Jeter essentially missed this entire season, but he will return for next year. Mark Teixeira also missed the majority of this season, the Yankees will hope he can provide pop in the middle of their lineup next season. The Yankees need to get younger and develop their minor league system, while staying relevant at the same time. It’s a hard act to juggle; missing the playoffs isn’t acceptable in New York, but that usually is what happens if you try to build up your minor league system.
One certainty is the Yankees have re-resined manager Joe Girardi. This is a great start to the off season for the Yankees. Girardi is one of the best managers in baseball and is well respected in New York. Girardi has done a great job with the Yankees during his tenure. He won a World Series in 2009, their first since 2000. He also guided the Yankees to 85 wins this season, which was quite impressive when you factor in all the injuries they had (and it was a lot) and with how horrible Sabathia was. Girardi understands New York and knows what it takes. He won with the Yankees as a player and a manager; he is the right man for New York.
There’s no shortage of talented costless agents this off-season: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, and Justin Morneau. The Yankees have a lot of needs, including outfielders and a catcher. Brian McCann would be a very good signing for them to solidify their catcher position. Assuming the Yankees sign Cano to a big contract, they likely wouldn’t pursue another top costless agent, although you never know. What a splash they could make if they signed Cano, Ellsbury, and a good starter. Yankees could use an outfielder and a leadoff man; Ellsbury is both and very good at both. Not only would Ellsbury be a great addition for the Yankees, but it would mean he left the Red Sox; double bonus for the Yankees. With this entire Alex Rodriguez saga being played out, if the Yankees are able to get out of his eneromous contract, they would have a lot more money to spend this winter and re-signing Cano, plus signing Brian McCann and a starter wouldn't be a stretch anymore.
It will be a long off-season for the Yankees, and as a Yankees’ fan, I’m hoping it is a positive one to help get them back on track.