Now that the season has ended with the 27th title for the Yankees, the question now turns towards 2010 and title number 28. That will inevitably lead to a discussion of our free agents. These are some of the significant players coming off the books:
Johnny Damon LF - $13 million
Hideki Matsui DH - $13 million
Xavier Nady RF - $6.55 million
Andy Pettitte SP - $5.5 million (guaranteed)
Chien Ming Wang SP - $5 million
Jose Molina C - $2 million
Out of this list, I suspect that Xavier Nady will not be returning. The rest are a little trickier:
Jose Molina - He did his duty, and as a backup, you couldn't ask for much better. He hit the last homerun at the old Yankee stadium, and he won a championship in the new one. Since John Flaherty, we had a string of back up catchers that just didn't do the trick, including Kelly Stinnett, Sal Fasano, and Wil Nieves. So why wouldn't the Yankees bring him back? Well, the young Francisco Cervelli stepped up and proved that he could catch at the big league level. Along with a .298 batting average, which was all a bonus, he proved that he could call a game at this level, and be more than servicable as a backup. I think Molina will be gone next season.
Chien Ming Wang - The most winningest pitcher throughout the 2006-2007 season has had a very rough last couple years. Hobbled by a foot injury in 2008, Wang never quite showed that he had regained his signature sinker this year. Then it came out that he needed shoulder surgery and would likely need to miss all of the 2010 season. What complicates things is that there is no guarantee that he'll be able to come back and pitch the way he used to. If the Yankees resigned him, it would just be to rehab him for the year, and then reevaluate for 2011 based on the results. I think the Yankees should not resign him under arbitration, let him become a free agent, and then sign him at the league minimum if they can. $400,000 to rehab should be a good bet for Wang.
Andy Pettitte - We'll have to assume that he wants to return for another season, but if he does, the Yankees would be crazy not to sign him. We're not talking about another $5.5 million deal with incentives. The Yankees should just offer him what he made this year with the incentives. I believe he made $11 million with his incentives, and that should be a good guaranteed contract for next season. However, the free agent market for pitchers is horrendous this year, so expect that price to inflate.
Johnny Damon - The man did his duty out of the number 2 spot this year batting .282 with 24 homeruns and 82 RBI's. He's visibly lost a step or two over the past 4 years, but he's still an elite hitter, and a good left fielder. There will a few outfielders in the free agent market including boppers Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, but for my money, Johnny Damon is still the best option. A two year deal with a third year club option and a buyout would be fair. Holliday and Bay would give us more offensive production, but would easily require more years to sign.
Hideki Matsui - A left handed power bat like Matsui's is hard to come by, and what he did in the world series was beyond phenomenal. The Yankees do need to consider the effects of having so many aging players on the roster while having a permanent DH as well. All in all, I think our older players can manage for another season, and having Matsui's bat in the lineup or off the bench for another year ought to be a tremendous help. That being said, I would not sign him for more than a year. At this stage, his knees are a ticking time bomb, and though he brings a good bat, he can't play the field or run the bases. I'm not sure what the market will look like for boppers, but the Yankees should try to make every effort to make a competitive offer for one year. If he's getting a multi-year deal from somewhere else, the Yankees should let him go.
What do you guys think?