New York Yankees: 5 Players They Could Sever Ties With This Offseason
State of the New York Yankees Entering 2013 Offseason
Heading into the offseason, there will be a number of changes coming to the New York Yankees roster that finished 85-77 during the 2013 regular season. Everyone from owner Hal Steinbrenner to the fans could tell that this team was simply underwhelming in every area on the field, both as a result of aging players and an underwhelming farm system.
With a mere $89.025 million currently on the books for the 2014 season, there will be significant room to sign new players, which will be helped out by the team's reported willingness to spend north of $300 million on contracts in the offseason. Spending this money will be necessary as a plethora of names that led to the poor season at Yankee Stadium are looking likely to go out the doors.
First of all, the Yankees will have to deal with the already cemented departures of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who will both be retiring after lengthy careers in MLB. The loss of these two future Hall of Fame careers will have a huge effect on both the on-field product and within the clubhouse, where they have taken on huge roles with the team's younger pitchers.
But in addition to these legends' departure being cemented, there will be a number of players who will be heading out of town as a result of free agency, being traded or even released. These players will likely contain a mix of veterans, journeyman and even youngsters who simply look like wasted talent at this point.
With this wave of players leaving the Bronx in mind, I have compiled a list of the five players that the Yankees could sever ties with during the offseason whose departure has not been cemented through retirement.
5. Phil Hughes
Although starting pitcher Phil Hughes was once regarded as one of the best prospects in all of baseball, it appears as if a lackluster 2013 season may be his farewell call to the Bronx. Over 30 games pitched (29 starts), Hughes threw 145.2 innings with an unsightly 4-14 record and a 5.19 ERA. Sapped of the killer instinct that he once held as a rookie phenom and an 18-game winner in 2010, it is hard to envision the Yankees tendering a qualifying offer that would guarantee Hughes $14.1 million in 2013. This should be for the best for both the player and team going into the future, though.
4. Vernon Wells
On paper, it would appear that outfielder Vernon Wells would be an unmovable contract as he is owed $24.643 million in 2014 and has not hit over .233 since 2010. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays are paying $22.243 million of Wells' salary next year, so releasing him would really not cost the Bronx Bombers much money at all. Ultimately, the Yankees' goal is always to field the best team, and shedding $2 million by releasing Wells will ensure this. Simply put, he must go.
3. Curtis Granderson
After making $15 million during the 2013 season, there is little doubting that outfielder Curtis Granderson will be in for a lowered salary in 2014 -- the question is just how much. During the 2013 season, Granderson was limited to 60 games played, during which he hit .229/.317/.407 with eight stolen bases, seven home runs and 15 RBIs. While Granderson was limited throughout the 2013 season, he undoubtedly still possesses a good bat and plays good defense, which makes it likely he would reject a $14.1 million qualifying offer. If he does reject this offer, there will likely be significant interest on the open market, which will include teams willing to give him the multi-year deal that the Yankees seem reluctant to dole out.
2. Hiroki Kuroda
Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is surely wanted back in the Bronx after posting an 11-13 record with a 3.31 ERA, but the real question is whether he wants to come back. Kuroda has made it a habit of playing on one-year deals over the last three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, making it clear that he will not sign with any other teams in MLB. The 38-year-old has also made it clear that he wants to pitch in Japan for at least one more season before retiring, which will obviously have to happen sooner rather than later. Expect the Yankees to extend Kuroda a qualifying offer with the hopes he signs back on for one more year, but don't be especially surprised if he declines it to go home to his wife and two young daughters.
1. Robinson Cano
Second baseman Robinson Cano will likely be the most coveted free agent on the market this offseason, as he has not hit for less than a .302 batting average, 27 home runs or 94 RBIs during the last four seasons. On top of his offensive production, Cano is arguably the best defensive second baseman in the game today and probably the best all-around second baseman. Of course, it would seem logical for the Yankees to re-sign their best player, but with Cano demanding a king's ransom of 10 years and $315 million, it doesn't appear that negotiations have gotten off to a good start. Yankees management has made it clear that they will not pay this fee, which will leave the door open for a surprise team to swoop in and sign the 31-year-old.