In this off-season, the Yankees had several players hit free agency. Pettitte, Martin, Kuroda, Ichiro, Swisher, Rivera and Soriano made the list of players in walk years, and the Yankees were aggressive about bringing back Pettitte, Kuroda, and Ichiro while letting the others go. The Yankees then went on to sign Kevin Youkilis to a one year deal to see if they can benefit from a bounce back out of him. This was the Yankees approach to fill the gaps for 2013 while not committing to any long term deals as they aim to be under the $189 million threshold for 2014. The problem with this is that it sets up a situation for 2014 where some of our biggest impact players are in walk years. Consider this, our rotation currently boasts of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. Out of that group, Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes are all free agents after next season, with two of them likely to at least consider retirement or playing elsewhere. The bullpen that we've worked hard to build in previous years has Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan hitting free agency at the end of next season too. Our offense has Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Kevin Youkilis coming off contracts next season. So let's tally this up, next season, we'll have openings for 3 starting pitchers, 2 relievers, a closer, a centerfielder, a 2nd baseman, and a third baseman. Now of course, we have A-Rod returning mid season who can hopefully take back 3rd base, and Michael Pineda should be making a return as well. However, Pineda won't likely fill in one of those 3 starting vacancies since he may very well replace Nova in the rotation.
All those players hitting free agency represent just over $91 million coming off the books, some of which they'll need to pocket in order to get under that $189 million threshold. Assuming they leave themselves $80 million to offer contracts with, do we really see the Yankees finding a centerfielder, 3 starters, a 2nd baseman, a closer and 2 relievers as well as addressing any other needs that may arise? Of course, relievers can be replaced cheaply, but we have 6 premium positions to replace, where bargain hunting may not be the best idea. Will they let Cano walk? If not, they can expect to give him a sizable raise over the $15 million he's making this season, and that limits what they can do for the other positions. They could do what the Red Sox did this season, and sign a number of declining veterans to fill in the holes where they can, or they can hope to get their free agents back at reasonable prices. The truth is, if you're under inspired by the 2013 Yankees, get yourself ready for the 2014 Yankees.