You might remember last year that Eddie Bajek of Detroit Tigers Thoughts reverse-engineered the Elias Rankings last year, with very accurate results. He has an updated list, and you may be surprised at some of the Yankees positions on his list. Here it is, I’ll list the Yanks due to become free agents after this season and I’ll go through each one by one:
Xavier Nady-Type A-83.61
Johnny Damon-Type A-83.33
Hideki Matsui-Type B-72.73
Jerry Hairston-Type B-66.67
Andy Pettitte-Type B-72.937
Jose Molina will likely be replaced by Frankie Cervelli next year and is an unranked free agent, so we won’t be getting any compensation back for him.
Xavier Nady’s Type A status really surprised me, though I would imagine Nady will fall as the season progresses and he doesn’t play. First thought is that nobody in their right mind would give up draft picks for a OF coming off his 2nd Tommy John surgery, so its likely a moot point anyway. It is possible however, that someone may sign him to a low base salary with incentives on a 1 year deal with some club options (ala Carl Pavano) if they really need an outfielder. The Yanks could even do this themselves as some insurance for what could be a very young outfield next year. But the Yanks would have to offer Nady abritration for the draft pick compensation to kick in, and they’re not going to. He would do much better in arbitration than he will as a free agent. So were back to it being a moot point.
Johnny Damon will be gone after this season, despite the year he’s had with the bat. The Yanks have had enough of watching him play LF and are trying to rid themselves of the DH-types. Coming off a big offensive year, someone will sign him and we could get the draft picks, assuming there’s a 2 year deal out there somewhere for him. But that’s a big assumption. If the free agent market this year is the same as last year, Damon would likely get Abreu-type deal of 1 year at 5-6 mil. In that case, expect Cashman to follow a similar course as he did with Bobby Abreu and not offer him arbitration and simply let him walk. As happened with Abreu, we would get no draft picks back. But most economists are already seeing some improvement in the economy, so this off season shouldn’t be as bad as last year. It is also possible that the Yanks may have an auto-decline arb clause in the contract. The Yanks signed Damon as a free agent (unlike Abreu) and may have included that for a little extra cash.
Hideki Matsui is just as likely to return to Japan (or retire) as he is to sign elsewhere next year. Seattle and San Fran may have some interest. As to whether the Yanks offer him arb, see above w/Johnny Damon.
Eric Hinske isn’t owed any compensation, but I wouldn’t rule out a return to the Bronx. Cashman has had all sorts of trouble getting veteran bench help in recent years, and so far he’s been terrific the Yankees.
Jerry Hairston is another shocker, I’m amazed he’s a Type B. It will be an interesting decision between offering him arb or simply letting him walk. He’s a useful and very versatile player, and a nice guy to have on your roster. But he signed the 2 mil deal coming off a career year in 08 (OPS+124) and has since regressed to his career averages (Career OPS+85/+82 this season). I’m not sure he’ll get more than a 1 year deal on the open market, but he might, it’s close. I think the Yanks will be looking to work in Ramiro Pena next year and they already have a speedy defensive OF replacements in Gardner/Melky. It’s also possible he would lose his Type B status due to lack of playing time or poor production with the Yanks, although he’s pretty comfortably a Type B right now, so I don’t expect that. I’ll guess that since it’s not big money either way, the Yanks will offer arbitration and let him know privately whether they really want to bring him back or not.
I think Andy Pettitte has made it pretty clear it’s the Yankees or retirement at this point. The lack of interest by the Astros last year made that decision even easier for him. Don’t expect any compensation for him with his type B status unless Astros owner Drayton McLayne has a change of heart. I also doubt that with Hughes knocking on the door the Yanks will bring him back for the 2010 campaign. But Andy has said recently he feels great and could pitch another few seasons. The Texas Rangers could be another possibility for him, he could be a less expensive veteran alternative to the 12 mil for Kevin Millwood. Given the financial trouble Rangers owner Bill Hicks is in, I’m sure he would love a flexible, incentive laden contract like the one Andy signed this off season. Keep an eye on Millwood’s innings, he has a 12 mil option that kicks in automatically if he pitches 180 innings this year. He’s currently at 138 but on the DL with a minor injury. Torre’s Dodgers could be another possibility, replacing Randy Wolf.
If I had to guess I’d say we get compensation for Hairston and Damon, and that’s it. But I’m keeping an eye on Andy, it will be tough to retire if he wins 15+ games this year.
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