5 Dangerous Offseason Assumptions by New York Yankees
5 Assumptions with Big Consequences
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the New York Yankees ever fully assume anything when it comes to player transactions. However, they have understandably had to take some action based on the best information and probabilities they had at the time. Some of these assumptions either already have or could have significant side effects in 2014 if proven false.
With so many variables running on different timelines, it has undoubtedly been a great chore for GM Brian Cashman to put together a solid offseason plan. “If we sign this guy, then x. If we don’t, then y,” etc. The only card he has had to play has been to assume the most likely scenario and act accordingly – that, and build in backup plans for his backup plans of course.
Putting together a championship team is always going to be a bit of a chess match. However, the Yankees haven’t helped themselves make it any easier. The team’s heavy reliance on free agent signings, as opposed to in-house fixes, has made this offseason particularly challenging. Finally, there has been plenty of uncertainty regarding their own personnel (ie. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez), such that putting together a winning team and accomplishing all other goals would be a hefty accomplishment indeed.
Let’s take a look at some high-probability occurrences – things the Yankees reasonably did or still do believe will come to pass. But then, what if they don’t?
5. Michael Pineda would/will be Healthy
It started almost two years ago when the Yankees traded top catching prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for young right-hander Michael Pineda. Since Pineda passed his physical, it’s safe to say that the Yankees assumed he was healthy at the time. Injuries are always a risk with any player, but I doubt anyone in that front office expected to be bearing down on the two-year anniversary of the trade without Pineda having played in a single big league game.
Now, with the starting rotation in need of some assistance, the Yankees are hoping that Pineda will be ready to go in 2014. His rehab from shoulder surgery seemed on track last year, and he pitched well in 10 games with the Yankees’ minor league affiliates to end the season. Unfortunately, if Pineda has another setback or underperforms, then an already-shallow rotation will become even more sparse.
4. Masahiro Tanaka would be Posted
The Yankees have been hoping that Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka would be posted by his home team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. At this point, it seems that the new posting system has given Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana just enough financial reason not to post his best pitcher.
The hope of getting Tanaka is likely one of the reasons why the Yankees have been hands-off with free agent pitchers Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Now the Yankees will likely have to sign another pitcher. Not only was this not their first choice, but Tanaka’s absence will shift the market value of unsigned starting pitchers, likely making any acquisition more expensive.
3. Shin-Soo Choo would Accept $140 Million Offer
It was certainly shocking to hear that outfielder Shin-Soo Choo turned down the Yankees’ seven-year, $140 million offer after stating that he was looking for “Ellsbury money.” However, the Yankees should be happy that their assumption of Choo accepting the deal did not come to fruition. The team signed Carlos Beltran instead to a much less overwhelming deal worth $45 million over three years.
2. Mark Teixeira will be Ready for Opening Day
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira missed the majority of last season with an injured right wrist. None of the Yankees’ offseason moves to this point indicate that they are worried about not having a healthy first baseman in 2014.
Teixeira hasn’t completed his rehab yet, and he’ll continue to work up through Spring Training with a goal of being ready for Opening Day. However, a setback for Teixeira is possible, and as such, the team would be wise to think about backup options at first base.
1. Arbitrator will Uphold A-Rod's Suspension
Here it is – the big guy. The general feeling regarding A-Rod’s appeal of a 211-game suspension is that the arbitrator will reduce the suspension to 162 games. If this does not happen, and somehow Rodriguez starts at third base for the Yankees next year, a whole host of problems will ensue.
First, he is owed $27.5 million by the Yankees next year, so the $189 luxury tax goal for 2015 and beyond will be out the window (they will be paying a penalty this year). Second, A-Rod is aging and plagued by injuries. There is little reason to believe he would give the Yankees adequate production for an everyday third baseman. And finally, the circus would come back to town. No one wants to deal with another year of A-Rod drama.
If A-Rod’s suspension is overturned, that would result in the most disastrous consequences of all.