Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann will help replace Robinson Cano’s production. That’s great. Now what about the rotation?
With yesterday’s re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees have three quality starters with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.
Sabathia is coming off the worst season of his career, owning the third-worst ERA in the league at 4.78. Without CC shoring up the No. 1, the Yankees, frankly, don’t have much of a chance. He’s 33 years old, but, according to FanGraphs, since 2009 his average fastball velocity has dropped from 94.2 mph to 91.1 mph. Is this a mechanical issue? Maybe conditioning? Either way, Larry Rothschild has some work to do to help CC get back on track.
If CC continues to struggle, it will be up to Nova and Kuroda to carry this team.
As for the rest of the rotation, Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is the top pitcher on the Yankees’ radar. But with Major League Baseball and Japanese baseball officials negotiating a new posting system, Tanaka remains unavailable at this time.
The last spot – or two – in the rotation will likely be up for grabs in spring training with a competition among Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno.
With the Carlos Beltran signing, the Yankees have an awfully crowded outfield. Don’t forget, Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki are still on this team, along with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is the weakest outfielder of the bunch and figures to split DH duties with Beltran, Derek Jeter and Brian McCann.
With the free agent market for pitchers looking pretty bleak, Gardner could be a centerpiece in a trade for a starter, a reliever, or even a second baseman. If the Yankees can’t sign Tanaka, it makes some sense to deal Gardner.
It’s hard to imagine, but No. 42 won’t be there in the ninth inning next year. As of today, it will be No. 30, David Robertson. One glance at the numbers the Alabama product has posted in the last three seasons is comforting, but he can’t do it alone.
Grant Balfour is the best reliever available, saving 62 games with a 2.56 ERA in the last two seasons. Signing Balfour would allow Robertson to remain as a setup man. But at what price? I wouldn’t give him more than 3 years, $24 million.