The 2013 season has been far from kind to the New York Yankees. Injuries have decimated their lineup and off-field issues with a certain third baseman have created a circus atmosphere around the team at times this season. Right now, the Yankees sit just one game over .500 at 57-56 and the rest of the season looks dim. However, next season could be worse for the Yankees.
The Yankees could be faced with having to replace three-fifths of their starting rotation. Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are impending free agents who could retire. Phil Hughes is another free agent who the Yankees are likely to see sign elsewhere unless he accepts a qualifying offer, if the Yankees even offer one to him. That leaves C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova to head the rotation next season. Ideally, the Yankees can pencil in Michael Pineda and David Phelps into the rotation next season but both were shut down in their respective rehabs and must be considered question marks at this point.
The free agent pitching market is thin. Kuroda could be the best pitcher on the market followed by Matt Garza and A.J. Burnett. Burnett is not an option given his recent experience in New York and the fact that he has already said he will stay with the Pittsburgh Pirates or retire. Garza could command more money than the Yankees are willing to shell out.
Another major issue for the Yankees in 2014 is who replaces Mariano Rivera. David Robertson might be best suited for the job but whoever takes over the closers role will have more pressure on them than just closing out games in the ninth inning.
Mark Teixeira has basically missed the entire season with the exception of a few games. His health moving forward has to be considered a major question because it was a wrist injury and they can tend to linger even after surgery. Across the infield, the health of Derek Jeter has become a huge concern for the Yankees. Will he be able to return to the player he was before his ankle, quad and calf injuries that have led to him being on the disabled list for all but five games? Then, there is the looming suspension of Alex Rodriguez for using PEDs. He is currently appealing the decision by Major League Baseball but should not expect much mercy. If Rodriguez is suspended for all of 2014 who do the Yankees get to replace him? They tried Kevin Youkilis this past off-season but Youkilis’ back failed him and he has been on the DL for all but 28 games.
I haven’t even mentioned the outfield yet where Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki will be 38 and 40-years-old respectively. Vernon Wells is signed for next season but could find himself released since the Yankees are not paying a dime of his salary next season. Curtis Granderson is a free agent and the Yankees might not want to invest heavily in a soon-to-be 33-year-old outfielder. That leaves Brett Gardner as the lone dependable in the outfield.
The catchers have been underwhelming this season. Francisco Cervelli has a PED cloud over his head and a history of injury. Chris Stewart is a fringe backup catcher at best. Austin Romine hasn’t shown much in his time in New York and has a history of back issues. J.R. Murphy has had a nice season at Triple-A and could be the Yankees’ starting catcher unless the Yankees make a splash and sign Brian McCann.
The 2014 Yankees currently look like they will be trying to fill many of the same holes they have been trying to patch up this season. Some of the questions that have hovered over this team will continue to haunt them next season and I haven’t even touched upon the possibility of Robinson Cano leaving as a free agent. One way or another, GM Brian Cashman will once again have his hands full as he tries to put the Yankee train back on the tracks.