Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Brian Cashman has told us that the Yankees are done spending any more money on major free-agents this winter, but after the signing of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees have blown past the $189 million luxury-tax mark, meaning that saving money is no longer a problem.

Spring training is just over a week ago from beginning for the Yankees, with a number of notable free-agent still left on the market.

After fixing some major holes in the starting rotation and adding more power to the lineup, the Yanks still need to find some clarity in the infield, as well as the bullpen. And there are quite a few free-agents capable of filling those roles.

But even if the options are available, and the Yankees are willing to spend the extra cash to ensure that they've built the best possible roster for 2014, are any of the free-agents worth signing?

Let's start with the position players today.

Nelson Cruz, OF: age 33, 27 homeruns, .266 average, 76 RBIs in 2013.

The Yankees swooped up three of the top ten bats on the market this offseason -- signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran -- and now Cruz is left as the top free-agent hitter.

For a guy that has shown some serious homerun power over the past few seasons, it would seem kind of surprising that he is still available with spring training about to start, but being tied to a PED suspension in 2013 and draft-pick compensation for rejecting a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers, many teams seem reluctant to sign him.

As for the Yankees, there is simply no need for another outfielder on the roster. There are too many, as it is. The Yanks release Vernon Wells a couple weeks ago, and seem willing to trade Ichiro and his contract away, but adding another outfielder is not in the works.

It felt possible earlier in the winter that the Yankees could make a run for Cruz, but that was before they signed Beltran to a three-year deal. Sure, his power would make him dangerous in Yankee Stadium, but Cruz is not on the table for the Bombers.

Stephen Drew, SS: age 31, 13 homeruns, .253 average, 67 RBIs in 2013.

Drew has been one of the most talked about players among Yankees fans and writers this winter. With the questions around Derek Jeter and his right ankle, signing Drew would be a pretty good fallback option in case something happens to Jeter, and could also be there to take over as the primary shortstop if he retires in the next couple of years.

Drew isn't much at the plate, but he can give the Yankees a decent glove in the field that would be an upgrade over some of the other player coming to camp.

Right now, however, the Yankees don't need him to play shortstop. Their biggest infield need is at third base.They could ask Drew to play third base if they signed him, being an upgrade over current third base favorite Kelly Johnson.

Cashman has been making it clear to the media over the past couple of months that he doesn't intend to sign Drew, and while some reports say they might go after him now that the $189 million goal is out of the window, the tune remains the same: they don't plan to go after him.

Kendrys Morales, 1B/OF: age 30, 23 homeruns, .277 average, 80 RBIs in 2013.

Let's just get this out of the way. Morales is a free-agent, he has power, and he can play first base -- a position in which the Yankees lack and serious depth right now with concerns surrounding Mark Teixeira's wrist. But the interest is not there with the Yankees, from what I know.

The overstock of outfielders is too much for him to fit in. A couple of those outfielders -- Alfonso Soriano and Beltran -- along with Jeter figure to spend a lot of time DHing, taking away even more at-bats from Morales. The only way I can see them signing him is if something happens to Teixeira during spring training that forces the Yankees to find a replacement for him.

Placido Polanco, 3B: age 38, 1 homerun, .260 average, 23 RBIs in 2013.

OK, he's not one of the best free-agents available, but he is a third baseman, and the Yankees need one of those. There is nothing really great about him, but he'll take the field, give you at-bats, and play third base on a daily basis.

I would still go with Johnson over Polanco, but he might be worth bringing to camp on a minor league deal. It wouldn't hurt to do so.

Justin Turner, 3B: age 29, 2 homeruns, .280 average, 16 RBIs in 2013.

Hey look, another third baseman. Turner was non-tendered by the Mets back in December because the didn't like the way he hustled on the field, apparently.

Turner is a versatile infielder that can play around the infield, and could be a very couple bench option on the Opening Day roster is the Yankees decided to bring him into spring training on a minor league deal. With all the infielders the Yanks have coming to camp now, adding one more wouldn't be a bad thing.

Turner can play third base and first base for the Yankees, and even second base if needed. As I've mentioned a few times above, he can be a useful first base backup, and a option to play third base.


At this point, the Yankees are very unlikely to bringing in anymore players in anything more than a minor league deal. Turner seems to be one of the better options worth brining to Tampa. Really, though, it's hard to completely cross Drew off the list until he signs elsewhere, because you never really know if the Yankees are actually staying away, or planning to spend as much as they can.

We'll look at all of the best available pitchers tomorrow, and see which ones are better than the current crop of pitchers that are expected to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, and the bullpen.


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