Friday, October 19, 2012

Yankee Free Agents

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the New York Yankees these days, most of them concerning how GM Brian Cashman plans on retooling the roster this winter. After getting swept out of the ALCS for the first time in team history, the Yanks will be busy this off-season.  It seems all but certain that they will exercise the options of perennial MVP candidate Robinson Cano ($15 million) and Curtis Granderson ($13 million), who leads all players in home runs since Opening Day, 2011. However, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Ichiro Suzuki, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, and Nick Swisher are all slated to hit free agency, and their futures with the organization are more uncertain.

Kuroda: 16-11 with 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 5.2 bWAR
This free agent signing earned his money by setting career highs in wins, starts, innings, complete games, strikeouts, and bWAR. He'll be 38 next year, but he's one of those pitchers who's only improved with age--his ERA+ has increased three years in a row. Won't command big money on the free agent market given how old he is, so he should be affordable. I think he'll return next year. It would be a mistake if New York lets him leave, especially if Michael Pineda doesn't bounce back..

Swisher: .272/.364/.473 with 3.5 bWAR
Swish has been a model of consistency during the regular season, but shrinks in October. In his 35 playoff games with the Yankees he has batted .159/.252/.302 with 36 strikeouts and just six RBI. This inability to produce in the postseason combined with his high asking price will ensure that he's playing somewhere else in 2013. Possible replacements include Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, or Shane Victorino.

Pettitte: 5-4 with 2.87 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 2.2 bWAR
Will the 40 year-old retire? The southpaw pitched well in the regular season and playoffs, but at his age health and durability have to be major concerns. He's averaged 102 innings per season since the start of 2010, and you can't rely on him to deliver much more than that. He still has gas left in the tank, so don't count him out.

Suzuki: .283/.307/.390 with 1.6 bWAR
Ichiro returned to form after joining the Yankees in late July by batting .322/.340/.454, right in line with his career .322/.365/.419 rates. Still, Suzuki turns 39 next Monday and is clearly in decline. There's not much use for a slap-hitting singles guy who's lost a step in the field and on the bases.

Martin: .211/.311/.403 with 1.5 bWAR
The three time All-Star was passable the last two years but has become an all-or-nothing hitter. His 21 home runs and .192 ISO were career bests last year, but he also set a career high in whiffs and batted a career worst .211. He'll be 30 next year, a dangerous age for catchers, but the Yankees may not have a choice.

Rivera: 5 saves with 2.16 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 0.4 bWAR
The all-time saves leader tore his ACL shagging fly balls during BP. He's set to turn 43 next month, but age hasn't affected his performance in the slightest. I can't envision the lifelong Yankee playing anywhere else.

Ibanez: .240/.308/.453 with 0.3 bWAR
Postseason heroics aside, Ibanez is on the wrong side of 40 and can't run, field, or hit lefties. Pass.

And as for Alex Rodriguez? He's not going anywhere. His mind is made up; he will not waive his no-trade clause because he plans on redeeming himself next year. Even if he was open to the possibility of a trade, good luck finding a team in the market for a 37 year-old third baseman with $114 million remaining on his contract, not including his home run milestone incentives which would tack on up to $30 million if he passes Barry Bonds.

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