Over the last month of the season and into October, Tim at MLB Trade Rumors has put together off-season outlooks for various teams. You can check out his Yankees outlook here. We posted a link to this when he wrote it, and Bo, our invariably negative commenter, brought up a good, albeit still negative, point. Why doesn’t Tim have bloggers for each team put together these outlooks?
That’s what we’re shooting for today. We’ll include all contract obligations, estimate arbitration raises, and the guys who have a prayer of breaking camp with the team in March. Discuss in the comments, and be sure to make sure I didn’t forget anyone.
C – Jorge Posada – $13.1 million
Jorge’s not going anywhere soon, not with that salary. Many people rightfully question his ability to catch over 100 games next year after having shoulder surgery a few months back. We know that Jorge will get every chance to stay behind the plate, and barring further setback, we can pencil him in as the Opening Day starter.
1B – TBD
Many want Mark Teixeira. That’s not a certainty by any means, and even if he’s interested in the Yanks, it will take a truckload of money to bring him aboard. Is it worth it at seven, eight years at somewhere between $130 million and $160 million? Tough call, though it certainly does fill a need for the foreseeable future.
Sans Teixeira, the options are not pretty. You can play a non-1B there, but we’ve seen not so great results from that in recent years. Sean Casey, Tony Clark, Kevin Millar, Eric Hinske, and Doug Mientkiewicz head the uninspiring free agent class. Juan Miranda is an in-house option. You might be paying out the wazoo for Tex, but he’s so much better than any of these options that it might justify the enormous price tag.
2B – Robinson Cano – $6 million
Cano gets a generous raise in the second year of his contract. There has been plenty of Cano trade talk over the past two months, and it’s not a certainty that his $6 million salary makes the Opening Day roster for the Yanks. I wouldn’t bet on a trade, of course; Cano’s value is lower than optimal, if not down like the Dow, and the Yanks likely won’t receive what they consider equal value for the 26-year-old second baseman. If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d put money on him staying.
If he does go, the Yanks had better hope they can sign Orlando Hudson. Beyond him, it’s a group of old, mostly unproductive players at the 4 spot. If Cano gets traded and I hear David Eckstein’s name in the second base mix, I’m just going to flip.
3B – Alex Rodriguez – $32 million
The only commentary here is that the Yankees were smart to front loat A-Rod’s 10-year, $275 million deal. He’ll make $32 million in 2009 and 2010, and gradually will make less in the subsequent years.
SS – Derek Jeter – $20 million
His contract is winding down. This is strange. No worries for 2009, though. You can talk about Derek’s defense if you’d like.
LF/RF – Xavier Nady – $6 million
That’s my arbitration estimate for Nady, who hit .305/.357/.510 on the 2008 season. Those numbers weren’t as good as a Yankee: .268/.320/.474, though we’ve seen that he does possess the ability to hit well. Now it’s a matter of him doing it over the course of a season in New York. His final numbers should give him a good raise over his $3.35 million 2008 salary, especially since he can now compare himself to final-year arbitration cases.
LF/RF – TBD
Nady can play left or right, giving us a small amount of flexibility. The free agent class is littered with shiny objects like Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn, but neither will likely live up to the contracts they receive. I like the idea of Dunn, especially since Giambi will likely be done, but Dunn seems like the type of guy who will go the way of David Ortiz/Travis Hafner. That is, succumb to injury in their early 30s. It’s not uncommon for the unathletic, corner OF/1B/DH type.
There’s always Manny, of course, but I see the Yanks showing even mild interest only if they miss out on Tex. Even in that case, I don’t expect they’ll move on him. As a cost-efficient option, they might sign Juan Rivera, but it’s difficult to justify handing him a starting gig, especially after his poor 2008, and especially since he’s only had one stand-out year.
CF – Johnny Damon – $13 million
Furthering the Yanks flexibility, Damon can man center or left, though it’s optimal to have him in left, considering his diminished defense. Melky and Gardner are internal options should the Yankees not find a corner outfielder or center fielder of their liking this off-season. So, for the sake of argument, we’ll talk about the free agent class here as well. Spoiler: none seems definitively better than Gardner at the league minimum or Melky at a bit above (he might be a Super Two, though won’t get a significant raise).
On the free agent market, we’ve discussed Mike Cameron, whose option might be denied by Milwaukee. Rocco Baldelli, considering his mitochondrial myopathy, is probably nothing more than a fourth outfielder, and my guess is he’ll stick with Tampa. Jim Edmonds is old, Mark Kotsay is injury prone, and Corey Patterson flat sucks. Looks like it will be Melk or Gardy unless there’s a trade.
DH – Hideki Matsui – $13 million
After having surgeries on both of his knees the past two off-seasons, it’s not expected that Hideki can roam the outfield in 2009. He might be able to make a start or two out there, but after watching his defense this year, might that be like playing with a 10-pound weight around your neck?
SP – Chien-Ming Wang – $5.5 million
After missing most of 2008, it will be tough for Wang to convince an arbitrator that he deserves a hefty raise. He made $4 million in 2008 after losing an arb case. I’ll bet he settles this year, though $5.5 million might be an overshoot. I’d consider it the ceiling, though, unless he signs a long-term deal. I don’t consider that likely, though.
SP – Joba Chamberlain – $400K
No question here. After his shoulder injury in August, the Yanks will likely just renew Joba and see what he can give going forward.
RP – Mariano Rivera – $15 million
Praise be to Mo.
RP – Damaso Marte – $6 million
Although there is a perceived debate over whether the Yanks will exercise Marte’s option, I still believe they will. There’s always talk about the need of a lefty reliever, and now the Yanks have one. He might be a tad expensive, but it’s still worth it. Phil Coke isn’t a sure thing, after all.
RP – Brian Bruney – $1.5 million
That would more than double his 2008 salary of $725,000, but Bruney could do it. Remember, there was a slight debate last off-season over whether the Yanks would nontender the wild reliever. While he missed a significant amount of time in 2008, he pitched well while healthy and could parlay that into a raise in 2009. Once again, this seems about the ceiling number.
The Yankees have a number of other relievers who will make the league minimum. However, they also have options, so could end up back in the minor leagues and not count against payroll. I think, at least. These include Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, Humberto Sanchez, Chris Britton, Dan Giese, Darrell Rasner, and David Robertson. You can even lump Melancon in with these guys, as I think he has a good chance of breaking camp with the team.
So, in any case, it appears that beyond Mo, Marte, and Bruney, the other four guys in the bullpen will make the league minimum or close to it. That is, unless the Yanks pick from among the free agent crop of relief pitchers, though I don’t see much there. Why blow money on Jeremy Affeldt if you have Marte and Coke as lefty options? I suppose they could take a look at Juan Cruz, who has gotten better in terms of WHIP and ERA over the past three years. Dude struck out 71 in 51.2 innings last year. Too bad he walked 31.
BN – Wilson Betemit – $2 million
After his poor season, I doubt Betemit gets a big raise over his $1.165 million 2008 salary. He’s still a valuable asset as a utility guy, though. As Mike is fond of saying, name three better utility infielders in the league.
BN – Jose Molina -$2 million
He’s a defensive wiz, and might be the best backup in the game. He does what we need, and he also seems to handle the young pitchers well.
The Yankees will owe $1.1375 million to Andrew Brackman and $400,000 to Juan Miranda regardless of where they play in the organization. Might as well figure that into payroll as well. Might as well also count Jason Giambi’s $5 million buyout, as well as Carl Pavano’s $1.195 million.
Total committed salary: $142.5 million
That counts all arbitration-eligible and above players, taking my ceiling estimates for salary. This does not count guys like Joba who are making the league minimum or close to it. Figure the Yanks will probably add another $3 or $4 million in those salaries.
There are a couple of TBD positions listed above, which could be filled internally and cheap. Gardner or Melky could take the outfield spot. Juan Miranda could take the first base slot on the cheap. The bench and bullpen could be filled by league-minimum guys. In that case, the Yankees would have shy of $150 million in current player salary.
However, we know that this isn’t going to happen. There are plenty of possibilities to upgrade the rotation, outfield, and first base, and the Yanks will surely look into each of them, though not all with the same degree of seriousness. Let’s take a look at the probable and possible big-money signings as they affect the 2009 payroll.
Andy Pettitte – $12 million – He’s not getting $16 million next year, that’s for sure. If they bring back Pettitte, which seems likely, I’d bet his salary would be about this number. Speaking of $12 million…
Mike Mussina – $12 million – Some think he’s definitely retiring, others are less sure. In any case, I wouldn’t expect Mussina to make more than $12 million next season if he does return.
CC Sabatha – $24 million – I doubt he makes more than this in AAV, and if he does make that much, it will be from the Yankees. That’s just a staggering number. $24 million for a guy whose arm could fall off. Still, for a guy like CC it’s worth the risk.
Mark Teixeira – $20 million – Once again, if the dude makes $20 million AAV, I would think it would come from the Yankees.
Manny Ramirez – $17 million – Scott Boras has said five years, $85 million. That’s $17 million AAV. Will a team sign Manny for five years? Doubtful. That AAV might go up. That is, unless no team wants a piece of him for nearly that much.
There have been rumors that the Yankees will cut payroll to around $180 million for 2009, down from $209 million on Opening Day 2008. Given what we’ve been hearing — that the Yanks will look for two free agent starters and will pursue Teixeira — that doesn’t seem likely. After all, that gives them just around $30 million to play with in 2009 payroll. If the Yanks add just one of Pettitte or Mussina, which seems likely, they’d be down to roughly $18 million in flexibility, or in other words not enough to sign Sabathia.
Chances are, payroll will be around $210 million for 2009. This would allow the Yankees to sign two free agents from the upper tier, plus maybe another under-the-radar guy to fill out the roster, though I don’t quite see who fits the bill.
All right, I’ll cut this novel short. Any thoughts?