In case you missed it, Yankee president Randy Levine spoke to CBS Sports Jon Heyman in a piece published yesterday, where he clarified the 2014 payroll situation. He said “The plan contemplates (Robinson) Cano, (Curtis) Granderson and a full championship team”. That removes any doubt that the Yanks austerity plan would suddenly mean they no longer retain their star players, which of course would also mean they would no longer be ‘the Yankees’ as the brand we know them as today. That’s the easy part, and comes as little surprise to those of us who have looked at this already. But there is some question about some of the more marginal figures on the team, some of whom are everyday players. The timing of the catching situation is complicated, the Yanks are loaded with prospects but it may be too soon to hand the reigns over to Austin Romine as soon as 2013, which would require the Yanks to retain Russel Martin or get Romine a veteran caddy like Chris Iannetta. For 2014 purposes, Martin (or Iannetta) could be signed and traded once Romine is ready. An apprenticeship at the position over the next two seasons sounds about right to me, and two seasons may be enough time for Gary Sanchez to be knocking on the door. That brings us to Right field.
Looking at next year’s FA crop, one name stands out at the head of the class in RF and its Andre Ethier. He’s coming off a solid season (.292/.368/.421) albeit a bit down in terms of power from his career averages (.291/.364/.479). He had surgery in mid September to clean up a nagging knee issue (bone chips) so I’ll chalk up last year’s drop in SLG to that. His agent is Nez Balelo, and he’s taken a wait and see approach on who the new Dodgers owners will be and the possibility of signing an extension. After that you a 36 year old Lance Berkman (been there, done that) and little else. Although one possibility that could emerge is already on the team, and that’s Andruw Jones. Should the 36 year old Jones have a big year with the bat he could be a short term option at a relatively low cost, which would give the Yanks a chance to see how high end prospects like Mason Williams, Ravel Santana and Slade Heathcott pan out this year and next. But all of that is far less certainty than the Yanks are accustomed to for their starting nine, so I have to think the Yanks will be in the market for an everyday RF at the end of this season.
That’s one approach. Another might be to move Gardner to his natural position in CF, Granderson to RF and sign a LF. Grandy’s arm would be passable in Right, though certainly not an asset. Delmon Young stands out there, but his chronically low OBP and defensive deficiencies in spacious Yankee Stadium make this somewhat of a wash, if not an outright downgrade. Another strong season with the bat and Young will get paid on par with Swisher, and at age 27 will likely get more years than the 32 year old Swisher. So you’re better off keeping your best defensive configuration and retaining Swisher. Unless a trade candidate emerges that allows the Yanks to fill RF with relative certainty at a low cost, it would appear their best move is to sign Swisher to a 3-4 year deal.
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