Monday, November 3, 2014
The postseason is over with the San Francisco Giants sleeping at night with visions of Madison Bumgarner dancing in their heads. It means it's time to get back to the business of baseball or more precisely, getting ready for next year.
First on the docket is deciding whether to extend a qualifying offer to your team's eligible free agents. The Yankees most certainly will extend an offer to David Robertson, aka "D-Rob", who did a very good job in his first season as a full-time closer. Those who think the Yankees should let him go and immediately install Dellin Betances as closer are either bananas or haven't paid much attention to the games they watched.
Robertson will turn down the offer, which is set this year at $15.3MM, up from $14.1MM from last season. This is Robertson first chance at a multi-year, multimillion dollar deal and there will be plenty of calls to his agents. He would be a fool to accept a one year deal to keep his high socks in the Big Apple.
No player accepted the 2014 qualifying offer last season and that's a pattern that's likely to repeat this season. The exception, though, could be Hiroki Kuroda. Which is wjy the Yankees should NOT extend him a qualifying offer. After a fabulous 2013 season, Kuroda was very erratic this past season, though the team's lack of defense and run production hurt his record and adversely affected the outcome of many of the games he started. He would probably jump on the offer, if he intends to play another season and wants to stay a Yankee. There's no way the Yankees would (should) give him an amount close to that. The Yankees need to reserve their money for younger, talent-rich players. (And no, that doesn't mean an All-Star at every position.)
Though the only starting pitcher, at the moment, the Yankees have under contract and is (somewhat) healthy is Michael Pineda. Since CC Sabathia hasn't thrown a pitch in a Major League game since May 10, he's not yet in the equation. Ivan Nova is coming off Tommy John surgery. Masahiro Tanaka's seven innings in September, after two months off, doesn't inspire confidence, and Brandon McCarthy is also a free agent. David Phelps, Chase Whitley, and Shane Greene are all question marks for consistency, among other things.
In addition to not retaining Kuroda, the Yankees should also not pursue Max Scherzer, who turned down a six-year, $144MM offer from the Detroit Tigers earlier this year, or lefty Jon Lester, who figures to earn a boatload of money as a free agent. While either would be fine acquisitions, their cost is too high, especially for a team with so much money owed to underachieving players.
The Yankees should try to bring back McCarthy, who adapted to well to Yankee Stadium, and James Shields. While Shields does not always live up to that "Big Game" moniker, he'll give you a solid regular season and 200+ innings, and will make less than Scherzer or Lester. Jeff Samardzija is also likely to demand too many greenbacks.
The Yankees liked what they saw in third baseman Chase Headley, though he has not come close to his 2012 offensive production. (31 HR-115 RBI-.875 OPS) Headley was spectacular manning the hot corner and occassionally filled in at first base. Several media outlets reported today the Yankees are already in negotiations for a new contract with the 30-year old Colorado native. It may not be easy though, as Headley is preferred by a number of team to free agent Pablo Sandoval and his expected wish for a big money contract.
Headley had a .768 OPS in 58 games in pinstripes with 6 HR and 17 RBI. While far from spectacular, it was difficult for anyone on the team to drive in runs when no one was getting on base on a regular basis. The plan would be for Headley to regular man third base with Alex Rodriguez becoming the primary DH.
UPDATE - The Yankees indeed made an offer to Robertson and bypassed Kuroda.