Spring Training Record: 3-2 (26 RS, 20 RA)
Spring Training Games This Week: vs. Nationals (Mon. on YES, MLBN), vs. Orioles (Tues. on YES, MLBN), @ Rays (Weds.), @ Phillies (Thurs. on MLBN), vs. Tigers (Fri.), @ Astros (Sat. on MLBN), vs. Rays (Sun. on YES)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

Categories : Polls
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The totally meaningless Grapefruit League winning streak is up to three games. The Yankees walloped the Blue Jays by the score of 8-2 on Sunday afternoon thanks to homers by Carlos Beltran (solo), Eduardo Nunez (two-run) and John Ryan Murphy (three-run). Nunez and Beltran went back-to-back. Dean Anna also drove in a run with a single.

The box score for today’s game is right here. Vidal Nuno allowed a solo homer to Jose Bautista in two otherwise uneventful innings, striking out three. Bryan Mitchell struck out three in his two scoreless frames and Shane Greene allowed a run in his two innings of work. Bullpen candidate Matt Daley struck out a pair in a perfect ninth inning. Yangervis Solarte went 2-for-2 and is up .857/.875/1.714 so far this spring. Here’s the rest of the news from Tampa.

  • There was a small fire in the clubhouse after the game (the Yankees were on the road in Dunedin). The clubhouse filled with smoke but the players were never told to evacuate. It wound up being no big deal. [Dan Barbarisi]
  • The upcoming rotation: Ivan Nova (Monday), David Phelps (Tuesday), Adam Warren (Wednesday), Masahiro Tanaka (Thursday), and Hiroki Kuroda (Friday). CC Sabathia will throw a simulated game on Thursday. [Meredith Marakovits]
  • Michael Pineda threw a simulated game this morning and everything went well. He will make his spring debut in relief of Kuroda on Friday. Mark Teixeira, meanwhile, will play in his first spring game either Thursday or Friday. [Marakovits, Bryan Hoch]
  • Alfonso Soriano (flu) is feeling better but still days from playing in a game. Scott Sizemore (knee) went through sliding drills and hopes to play in a game next week. Nik Turley (arm tightness) will play catch tomorrow. Bullpen sleeper David Herndon (Tommy John surgery) threw a simulated game. [Chad Jennings]

This is your nightly open thread. MLB Network is showing this afternoon’s game on a tape delay at 8pm ET, if you’re interested. The (hockey) Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here. Enjoy.

Comments (82)

We have more ways to evaluate baseball than ever before, yet it still feels like we’ve only seen the tip of the analytical iceberg. There are still so many aspects of the game we’re unable to fully understand or accurately measure.

On Saturday, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Major League Baseball Advanced Media introduced its new “player tracking” system that, basically, will measure everything that happens on the field. I’m not joking when I say everything. The ball, the fielders, the whole nine. Here’s more from Mark Newman (of MLB.com, not the Yankees’ front office):

The goal is to revolutionize the way people evaluate baseball, by presenting for the first time the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together. This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole play on the field — batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning — and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans.

For instance, on a brilliant, game-saving diving catch by an outfielder, this new system will let us understand what created that outcome. Was it the quickness of his first step, his acceleration? Was it his initial positioning? What if the pitcher had thrown a different pitch? Everything will be connected for the first time, providing a tool for answers to questions like this and more.

You can see the system at work in the video above, though there is much more to it than that. Only three ballparks (Miller Park, CitiField, Target Field) will have the system up and running for this season, but the goal is to having it operational in all 30 parks by 2015. I’m surprised all of this information will be publicly available, to be honest. I thought it would be kept proprietary.

Needless to say, this new system will change the way the game is evaluated. The stuff we have now is good, but it doesn’t compare to detailed information on defensive routes, first step quickness, batted ball quality, and a million other things. There has not been a reliable way to accurately measure that sorta stuff until now. It’ll be a while until we have this data for the entire league and learning how to properly use it will take even longer, but man, this new system is a gold mine.

Categories : Analysis
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Dean Anna, ladies and gentlemen.

Dean Anna, ladies and gentlemen.

The Yankees won their second straight Grapefruit League game on Saturday afternoon, shutting out the Phillies 4-0. Here’s the box score. The story of the day was Masahiro Tanaka‘s spring debut, and he did not disappoint. Two scoreless innings, two bloop singles, three strikeouts, and about a million cameras clicking with each pitch. Here are select GIFs and here is MLB.com’s brief highlight video. Joe Girardi confirmed Tanaka’s next appearance will be a start, date TBA.

Both CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda fired two scoreless innings and Kuroda appeared to be in midseason form, getting the six outs on only 17 total pitches. He had to go down to the bullpen to get the rest of his throwing in. Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki both singled, Derek Jeter and Kelly Johnson both walked, Brian McCann doubled, and Frankie Cervelli singled and walked. Jeter was actually tested in the field (unlike his first game) and he looked fine, even ranging to the other side of second base to field a slow chopper. Here’s the rest of the day’s news.

  • Tyler Austin received some kind of injection in his troublesome right wrist (it wasn’t cortisone, he says), and he hopes to resuming throwing and swinging a bat on Monday. Apparently tests showed no structural damage. [Chad Jennings]
  • Alfonso Soriano still isn’t 100% following his bout with the flu and he will not make his spring debut tomorrow as scheduled. “We don’t feel he’s quite at full strength, and we don’t want to run him out there,” said Joe Girardi. [George King, Jennings]

Here is your nightly open thread. The Nets are playing and MLB Network will have a Spring Training game on tape delay later tonight. I don’t know who but it won’t be the Yankees. You folks know how these work, so have at it.

Comments (72)

Tanaka7split

As expected, Masahiro Tanaka made his Grapefruit League debut this afternoon, allowing a pair of bloop hits (on 0-2 fastballs) in two scoreless innings. He struck out three, including one on that nasty splitter above. Considering it was his first outing of the year, Tanaka looked pretty good. I’m not kidding when I say you could hear the camera clicks with every pitch.

Bunch more GIFs after the jump. Sorry about the quality, HD was in and out on MLB.tv for me.

Read More→

Comments (35)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

I know this is only the fourth Grapefruit League game of the year, but this feels like the most anticipated Yankees game in a long time. Probably since Jesus Montero made his debut in 2011. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch in a game for the Yankees the first time this afternoon, though he isn’t starting. He’ll follow CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda as the team’s top three starters make their spring debuts.

Everything we’ve heard about Tanaka these last two or three weeks has been overwhelmingly positive. He looks great in the bullpen, he looks great in simulated games, he’s handling the attention well, he’s adapting to the culture and getting along with teammates, so on and so on. It’s all been good. Hopefully Tanaka comes out today and dominates in his limited action, but I’m not gonna lie, part of me hopes he gets creamed just to see the silly overreactions to a Spring Training outing. The single most important thing is that Tanaka gets through the day healthy, that’s all. If he does that, today will be a success.

The Phillies made the short trip over from Clearwater and will have Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown, and Marlon Byrd in the lineup. Bobby Abreu is also starting as he attempts a comeback. Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who has received underwhelming reviews so far this spring, is scheduled to pitch at some point. Here is Joe Girardi‘s starting lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. DH Brian McCann
  4. 2B Brian Roberts
  5. C Frankie Cervelli
  6. 3B Kelly Johnson
  7. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  8. 1B Corban Joseph
  9. CF Mason Williams

And, as I said, Sabathia is the scheduled starter. He’ll be followed by Kuroda and Tanaka. All three guys will be limited to two innings or 35 pitches, so Tanaka figures to throw innings five and six. Girardi confirmed Kuroda and Tanaka will not enter the game in the middle of an inning.

Available Pitchers: LHP Cesar Cabral and RHP Dellin Betances are also scheduled to pitch. RHP Robert Coello, RHP Chris Leroux, and RHP Yoshinori Tateyama are available to clean up innings if needed.

Available Position Players: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Addison Maruszak, SS Dean Anna, 3B Yangervis Solarte, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Antoan Richardson, and RF Adonis Garcia will all come off the bench. C Peter O’Brien, C Gary Sanchez, C Francisco Arcia, UTIL Jose Pirela, IF Zelous Wheeler, and OF Ramon Flores are also available.

It’s a great day for baseball in Tampa, with temperatures in the low-70s and not a cloud in the sky. This afternoon’s game will start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. The game is also being shown live on three different networks in Japan even though it’s 3am on Sunday over there. This is kind of a big deal. Enjoy the game.

Comments (334)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

The losing streak is over! The Yankees won their first Grapefruit League game in three tries on Friday, beating the Tigers by the score of 7-4. Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez each hit a solo homer within the first three innings — the team’s catchers hit eight dingers all of last season — and both Jose Pirela and Yangervis Solarte went deep as well. It was Solarte’s second homer in as many games. He’s the early favorite for the “random guy tears the cover off the ball in camp and everyone says he should make the team” award.

The box score is right here. Adam Warren allowed two hits and two walks in two scoreless innings, then Shawn Kelley, Mark Montgomery, Danny Burawa, Fred Lewis, Chase Whitley, and Preston Claiborne followed his scoreless frames of their own. Brian Gordon took one on the chin, allowing all four of Detroit’s runs in his inning of work. Zoilo Almonte and Ramon Flores threw runners out at the plate. The trio of Jacoby Ellsbury, Eduardo Nunez, and Carlos Beltran went a combined 0-for-7 with a walk (Ellsbury). Here is your daily update on the rest of Spring Training.

  • The Yankees used one of their young catchers (Sanchez, Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy) at DH for the fourth time in four exhibition games, prompting one scout to say they are “clearly showcasing” these guys for potential trades. Well, duh. [Erik Boland]
  • As always, Chad Jennings has the day’s workout groups. David Robertson threw live batting practice while Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Manny Banuelos threw bullpen sessions. After CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka pitch tomorrow, the rotation will be Vidal Nuno, Nova, David Phelps, and Warren the following four days.
  • Pineda will throw a simulated game on Sunday and then will likely pitch in a real game next week. The Yankees seem to be taking it slow with him in camp, which is understandable following his injury. [George King, Jennings]
  • The MRIs on Jose Ramirez back and oblique came back clean, though he is still “sore” and will be out at least another few days. He said it feels similar to the oblique problem that cost him two months last season. [Wally Matthews, Marly Rivera]
  • Slade Heathcott played catch and took dry swings for the first time today. He had his knee cleaned up over the winter and was unable to perform baseball activities early in camp. [Jennings]
  • No surprise here, but Joe Girardi said “it’s pretty safe to say” Tanaka will start either the third or fourth game of the regular season. I’m guessing it’ll be the third. [Bryan Hoch]

This is the open thread for the night. The Knicks are playing and MLB Network will have a Spring Training game on tape delay later tonight. Not sure what teams, but it won’t be the Yankees. Talk about whatever you want right here. Have at it.

Comments (76)

Seven questions for this week’s mailbag. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty)

(Scott Cunningham/Getty)

Anthony asks: After Derek Jeter retires at the end of the season, could you see the Yankees trying to swing a trade for Troy Tulowitzki? The Rockies could use some catching depth — what would a package headlined by Gary Sanchez look like? And given the length of his current contract, would such a trade make sense?

Well, the Yankees could try to swing a trade for Tulowitzki, but I’m not sure they have the pieces to get it done. This isn’t a Sanchez plus two or three okay prospects thing. Tulowitzki may be owed a ton of money ($118M from 2015-20) and he is injury prone, but he’s also the best all-around shortstop in baseball when he’s on the field. It ain’t particularly close either. It’s going to take an enormous package to land him.

Tulo will turn 30 after this season and given how much salaries have inflated the last year or two, his contract is actually something of a bargain. Don’t you think he’d get a lot more than six years and $118M if he hit free agency next winter? He’d blow right past that. Tulowitzki is so good that 120 games of him and 42 games of some replacement level shortstop is still arguably the best shortstop in the game.

I can’t think of a comparable player who was traded in recent years — maybe Prince Fielder? — but the Rockies would be right to ask for two top young players and another two pieces. If the Yankees offered me Sanchez, Ivan Nova, Eric Jagielo, and Jose Ramirez for Tulo, I’d probably say no because I can plug only one of those right into my big league roster. There’s way too much value in a shortstop who can hit*, play defense, and is signed to a below-market contract. The Yankees could try for Tulowitzki after the season and I hope they do, but their farm system would have to take a huge step forward in 2014 to get Colorado’s attention.

* Tulo has a 130 wRC+ at home and a 138 wRC+ on the road over the last three years, so he isn’t just a product of Coors Field.

Ryan asks: Any idea why Shinnosuke Abe never tried to make the jump to MLB? He appears to be a power-hitting catcher who also hits for average and gets on base well. Those are rarities in MLB (obviously why the Yankees went after Brian McCann so hard). Any idea why he was never posted? I know the Japanese league is more like AAAA, but it seems like he could’ve been a decent catcher in MLB looking at his statistics. He’s 34 now, so this is more of a question of the past, not about the future.

Abe (pronounced Ah-bay) turns 35 next month and he is one of the best catchers in Japanese baseball history, if not the best. Here are his career stats:

Year Age Tm G PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 22 Yomiuri 127 428 18 0 13 44 31 79 .225 .293 .373 .666
2002 23 Yomiuri 127 511 26 0 18 73 46 81 .298 .377 .478 .854
2003 24 Yomiuri 94 370 15 1 15 51 40 52 .303 .392 .500 .892
2004 25 Yomiuri 108 436 22 1 33 78 43 87 .301 .391 .625 1.016
2005 26 Yomiuri 130 534 16 0 26 86 51 78 .300 .365 .498 .863
2006 27 Yomiuri 129 497 26 2 10 56 35 76 .294 .349 .427 .776
2007 28 Yomiuri 140 580 20 0 33 101 57 76 .275 .355 .513 .868
2008 29 Yomiuri 125 484 27 0 24 67 44 66 .271 .350 .502 .852
2009 30 Yomiuri 123 462 20 2 32 76 34 87 .293 .357 .587 .943
2010 31 Yomiuri 140 569 27 2 44 92 58 91 .281 .368 .608 .976
2011 32 Yomiuri 114 437 21 0 20 61 35 66 .292 .363 .500 .863
2012 33 Yomiuri 138 555 22 1 27 104 69 47 .340 .429 .565 .994
2013 34 Yomiuri 135 529 17 0 32 91 86 59 .296 .427 .564 .991
13 Seasons 1630 6392 277 9 327 980 629 945 .290 .371 .520 .891
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/28/2014.

From what I understand, Abe wanted to play in MLB but the Yomiuri Giants were not willing to post him. They did the same thing to Hideki Matsui years ago. (Matsui signed with the Yankees after qualifying for international free agency.) Abe qualified for international free agency after 2009, but according to a report passed along by Yakyu Baka, he gave up on coming to MLB because his English was not good and his numbers had slipped in recent years (I assume he was referring to 2006-08). Obviously his performance rebounded.

Abe probably isn’t coming over to MLB at this point, so he’ll have to settle for being an NPB Hall of Famer and arguably the best catcher the country has ever produced. Oh, and he’s also the first (and so far only) man to ever hit two homeruns in one inning during the World Baseball Classic (video). That’s kinda neat. How many homers would he have hit in Yankee Stadium with that swing? All. He would have hit all the homers.

Kevin asks: As long as he’s productive doesn’t Alfonso Soriano seem like the next candidate for the Yankees to go year-to-year with on one-year deals? I’m sure they can continuously find 400+ at-bats for him as long as he’s still hitting it out of the park and isn’t terrible in the field.

(Ron Antonelli/Getty)

(Ron Antonelli/Getty)

I think so. Soriano just turned 38 but he can still hit, making up for his low OBP with power. If he adjusts well to being a DH regularly, he makes sense for a lot of teams as a year-to-year guy. (Red Sox, anyone?) The Yankees could use him as a part-time DH and part-time outfielder in the coming years, especially against left-handed pitchers.

What’s a reasonable salary? I don’t know, maybe something like $6-8M? That would be awesome. The team can definitely find a spot for Soriano on the roster in the coming years if he’s willing to go one year a time. He’s a real nice guy to have lying around at the right price.

Elliot asks: Because Brett Gardner received an extension vs. a new contract, is his salary for luxury tax purposes next year (189 is moot for 2014) calculated $11.72 million as 1/5 of $58.6 million, or is it $13 Million next year (12.5 + .5 for the guaranteed money from the buyout)?

I’m so happy the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold is kaput because trying to figure out “tax hits” was a pain in the ass. Anyway, Brian Cashman confirmed to Chad Jennings that the extension acts as a new contract that starts next season for luxury tax purposes. Gardner’s tax hit this year will be $5.6M (the one-year deal he signed to avoid arbitration last month) and then it’ll be $13M from 2015-18 (the guaranteed dollars spread across the guaranteed years of the new extension). Things will get complicated if the 2019 club option is exercised, but that’s a very long ways off. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires before then anyway and who knows what’ll happen to the luxury tax system. No point in thinking about it now.

Andrew asks: Do you think Gardner’s extension is a bit of a warning klaxon to the prospects?

Nah, I don’t think Gardner’s extension has anything to do with the prospects. I think the extension was simply about signing a productive player for the next few years rather than dealing with a potential bidding war after the season, when he was scheduled to become a free agent. None of the team’s top outfield prospects are close to making an impact and besides, there are three outfield spots. There’s always a way to squeeze someone in if they earn the playing time. Gardner is a good MLB player right now and those are the guys you keep regardless of who is coming up through the system.

John asks: Did Mariano Rivera set a record for most time as a player in the Yankees organization? I can’t think of anyone else under contract for 23+ years.

I don’t even know how to go about looking this up. The Play Index says Rivera and Derek Jeter currently hold the record for most seasons with at least one game played for the Yankees at 19, and Jeter will make it 20 in a few weeks. Mo spent parts of six years in the minors before making his MLB debut while Jeter was down for parts of only four seasons. (Remember, some of those MLB and MiLB seasons overlap.) Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra both played at least one game in 18 seasons with the team and they spent hardly any time in the minors. Jorge Posada played in 17 seasons with the Yankees and had another five or so years in the minors. Jeter, Mantle, Berra, and Posada seem like Rivera’s only real competition here, and since the Cap’n is retiring after the season, Mo’s spot is safe for the foreseeable future.

Sad Sally asks: Is Johnny Damon the most underrated player of our lifetime?

Was Damon ever underrated? I never thought so. He was obviously very good for a very long time, and in a few years he should garner some Hall of Fame votes. I don’t think he belongs in Cooperstown but voting for him would not be insane. Know who I think is more underrated than Damon? Mike Mussina. The guy had a career of almosts — almost won a Cy Young, almost threw a perfect game, almost won a World Series — until winning 20 games in his final season and I feel like he gets overlooked because of his lack of hardware. Moose is a Hall of Famer in my opinion and it sure seems like a lot of people don’t realize how great he was, maybe because he played at the same time as Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and other all-timers. Easy to get overlooked in that era.

Categories : Mailbag
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(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Last year, the Yankees were faced with the impending free agency of Robinson Cano, the best second baseman in the game and a player who was always going to require a massive contract commitment. The Yankees don’t have a player of that caliber set to hit the open market after this season, but they do have a number of guys entering their walk years. Some, obviously, are more important than others.

David Robertson
After spending the last three years as one of the top two or three setup men in the game, the 28-year-old Robertson is about the begin the most important season of his career. He will be tasked with replacing Mariano Rivera at closer and he’s also pitching for a new contract, two things that are very much tied together. If he steps in and pitches well in the ninth inning, his next contract will be much larger than if he had remained a setup man. That’s the way the economics of the game work.

There is little reason to think Robertson won’t be able to close games out in 2014. He misses a ton of bats (10.45 K/9 and 29.4 K% in 2013) and gets a ton of ground balls (50.9%), plus he’s managed to cut his walk rate in half these last two years (2.62 BB/9 and 7.3 BB%). When Robertson stopped walking guys in the second half of 2012, it was easy to wonder if it was a half-season fluke given his track record. When he continued to not walk hitters last year, we knew it was legitimate improvement. Robertson does everything you could possibly want a prospective closer to do.

Brian Cashman recently confirmed the Yankees have not had extension talks with their new closer and it seems unlikely they will sign him long-term at any point during the season. Obviously the club would love to have Robertson back in the future, especially if he steps right in and replaces Rivera without a hiccup. Closers make good money though, and it could wind up costing the team upwards of $10-12M annually on a four-year term after the season. Maybe more, the market has been pretty unpredictable.

Aside from Rivera and the ownership mandated Rafael Soriano, the Yankees have not signed a reliever to a multi-year deal worth more than $4M annually since Kyle Farnsworth almost a decade ago. Will they buck that trend for Robertson next winter? I suspect they will. Another question is whether the team is willing to risk the qualifying offer so they recoup a draft pick if leaves. My guess right now is they would — Robertson is unlikely to top ~$15M annually but he would get more total money across multiple years.

Hiroki Kuroda
Man, how good have the Yankees had it with Kuroda these last few years? Not only has he been their best starter and one of the best in all of baseball (ninth by bWAR from 2012-13), but he’s also been willing to work on a series of one-year contracts. How great is that? The Yankees have had a very productive pitcher on a bunch of low risk, short-term deals. It’s awesome.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Kuroda, 39, is on yet another one-year contract, meaning in a few months we’ll do the “will he play or retire?” dance once again. He has been quick to make his decisions the last two winters — re-signed in late-November last offseason and early-December this past offseason — and that has made the whole process even better. If he had been dragging things out until after the holidays and into mid-to-late-January, it would be quite annoying. Thankfully that has not been the case.

As with Robertson, I’m sure the Yankees would love to have Kuroda back in 2015 if he has another strong, productive season in 2014. That strong season is not a guarantee given his age but the one-year deal means the team can simply walk away if he does hit that final wall. The Yankees spent a boatload of money on Masahiro Tanaka and they have some young arm knocking on the door, but there is no such thing as too much pitching. They can always make room for Kuroda on another one-year deal and they should if he continues pitching well.

Alfonso Soriano
Up until now, I hadn’t thought about the possibility of re-signing Soriano after the season all that much. That massive eight-year, $136M contract he signed with the Cubs way back when finally expires this year, though the Yankees are only paying him $5M in 2014. Soriano just turned 38 last month and he continues to hit dingers with very little signs of slowing down.

The Yankees have Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran locked up to big money deals for the foreseeable future, but Soriano is someone who would have a role on almost any team if he is willing to sign a one-year deal after the season. The Bombers could use him basically like they will this year, as a regular who splits time between the outfield and DH. If his game starts to slip and he becomes a platoon guy, that’s still a useful player.

The question with Soriano will be his willingness to sign a one-year contract. He could push for a two-year deal with another strong, typical Soriano season in 2014, at which point it makes sense to walk away. A one-year deal is much a different story. The Yankees could retain him as a power bat and if some prospect comes up from the minors and forces his way into the lineup, the team will have the flexibility to make it work.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Ichiro Suzuki
It is very hard to envision a scenario in which the Yankees re-sign Ichiro following the season. They tried to trade him over the winter and he’s already been pushed into a fifth outfielder’s role by the team’s free agent signings, so bringing him back for another year seems very unlikely. Younger guys like Zoilo Almonte and maybe even Slade Heathcott don’t have the same name value but they could do the same job next year and maybe even do it better considering how much Suzuki’s game has slipped in recent years. If they don’t trade him at some point this year, the smart money is on the Yankees parting ways with Ichiro when his contract expires after the season.

Kelly Johnson & Brian Roberts
Simply put, Johnson and Roberts are hired guns. They were signed to low cost one-year deals to plug short-term holes and if they play well this year, the team could re-sign them for 2015. It should go without saying that Johnson is more likely to be brought back after the season than Roberts, just given their age and recent history. Because of his versatility and left-handed bat, Johnson is someone the team would have little trouble squeezing onto the roster even if they make some big moves for infield help next winter.

* * *

Technically, there is one other player due to become a free agent next winter, but Derek Jeter‘s final season and impending retirement is another post for another time. He’s not in a contract year in the traditional sense. Someone like Frankie Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez, or Shawn Kelley could play themselves into a non-tender candidate and thus free agency, but the Yankees control them as arbitration-eligible players beyond 2014.

The six guys above are the team’s only notable free agents to be, with Robertson and Kuroda standing out as the most serious cases. Soriano and Johnson are a little further down the priority list. Keep in mind that so few impending free agents means there isn’t much money coming off the books, which could affect how the team approaches trades and free agency in another few months.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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