Monday, November 9, 2009

Mulling Over Our Free Agents

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?


Steve said...

I agree with you on Molina and Pettitte, and Jose knows it's just the way the game goes. Damon they should keep as a dh and part time fielder but if you do keep him do you need Matsui also? There is no getting around what he did in the series but as a bench player that can only hit, is it worth the spot on the roster? The answer might be in the revenue the Yankees make from Japan because Matsui is on the team. Bay would be a great addition plus it gets him out of Boston. The biggest question of all is who's Wang?

Quinn said...

i agree with everything but damon. i want him out of pinstripes. his body is breaking down he has a bad back, and he is getting old. started the season on fire and declined and the year went on, and to be honest there is no need for him to be here. if it comes down to him or matsui, i take matsui.. i cant take damon playing in the outfield anymore, and as for a dh matsui is much better

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

The problem is the Yankees don't want to pay Bay of Holliday, both of whom are going to command contracts that are long and frankly more expensive then they're worth b/c it's a weak free agent market. There is no one in the Yankees system they can plug into left. Gardner can't hit and AJax isn't ready. Damon will be resigned because he is still a serviceable everyday left-fielder who has been sturdy for us (no significant time on the DH). Similarly, with Matsui's knees, he needs days off, so they can still cycle older players through his DH spot if need be. They'll probably sign him b/c he has far too productive a bat not to, even at his age, and his are by far the most severe physical limitations of any of our veterans. I think they're both coming back.

Ruthie J said...

Again with a surplus of outfeilders.. Nady was a good fit when we first got him, but we have gardy,swisher,melky, (possibly j-boY).. idk if nady is worth it. as for matsui, of coarse he's a fan favorite after the performance he put on, but i am not sure if I want him occupying a spot on the roster that could be more adequately filled. And I've always been a huge Francisco Fan and believe he can have a break out season with more playing time. Truth is, the options are there, it comes down to Principal over principal (or however that saying goes,idk, school has fried my brain)

*is the stove not hot enough yet to mention the messiah of minor league options (Austin Jackson). Got so sick of hearing his name last year, but with aging short arms in the outfield, why pay all theses grampa's? i bet the yanks are trying to be strategic with this prospect..

hunter said...

i heard that matsui is going to work on being able to play the field this winter... i hope it works out that he would be able to spend some time in RF/LF next season. obviously im not too optimistic about it...
if that doesnt work out, i would expect them to resign damon and let matsui go.
damon would make a great DH/4th outfielder. he is a monster on the base paths, and he has a really good bat still.
i dont think they should sign holliday... he didnt seem to fit in in the AL. and i wouldnt mind bay... but he is going to want a pretty large contract for quite a few years.
i wouldnt be opposed to signing nady for a "one year, see how it goes down" contract.

SA Yankee fan said...

For me, 2010 is almost like a limbo year, there is a massive FA crop in 2011 and my strategy would be to get through the year with as much salary room as possible to take advantage of the opportunities in 2011.

I would bring back both Damon and Matsui (preferably on 1 year deals, damon maybe 2) in order to ensure that the batting depth is there for 2010 (it was remarkable that the lineup was as healthy as it is given the age and everyone is going to be a year older). Offer wang a contract, let molina go and bring back Andy for another year. Doing all of that should free up about 10mil and leave you in a position to shed most of that and more next off season (Jeter and Mo coming off the books and presumably are going to take a little bit of a cut).

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

The Yanks have not discussed whether AJax is ready for regular major league duty yet, but considering that he hasn't been deemed ready for even limited major league duty up to now, I think it's unlikely we'll see him patrolling any part of our outfield on a regular basis next season.

I'm not sure Jete and Mo will be taking a paycut after next year, but certainly Matsui would not still be on the payroll, and Damon possibly (though I see a 2 year deal likely). Nonetheless, I do think if AJax isn't ready by then, the Yankees will be looking hard at one Mr. Carl Crawford.

Fernando Alejandro said...

Yeah 2011 should be a much better crop, and the Yankees will be busy with Jeter and Mariano becoming free agents. We should definitely give A-Jax a good look, but I think he'll need a Brett Gardner type backup roll before they put him out there as an everyday player at this level.

Crawford is an intruiging option. He may even be up for trade this year.