2016 Free Agency: Where Do The Yankees Stand?

The Yankees made the playoffs for the first time since 2012 in 2015, yeah I know it shocks me to even write it. But despite injuries to key players the Yankees were able to snag a Wild Card slot and they were awarded home field advantage against the exciting Houston Astros. Sadly lady luck was not on New York’s side as Houston through their ace Dallas Keuchel and he stifled the Bombers bats for the third time this year allowing zero runs and keeping his ERA at 0.00 against the Yanks. Questions lingered after the loss? Why was the $153 million dollar man Jacoby Ellsbury on the bench? Should Masahiro Tanaka have been left in longer or pulled sooner? All of these questions brought up others like should the Yankees of countered the Blue Jays trade deadline moves? (New York blew an 8 game lead in the AL East after Toronto traded for David Price and Troy Tulowtizki.) Why did Stephen Drew and Chris Capuano have roster spots? How come Rob Refsnyder was rotting away in Scranton with Michael Scott and the Dunder Mifflin paper company? Would the season have been different if Mark Teixeira didn’t get hurt? (According to WAR stats Tex was the Yankees best player this season. Manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman received tons of criticism this year (most notably from fellow BBB writer Steven Eareckson). They certainly deserve some blame but in the end it is on the players. Girardi and Cashman whether you think they are worth or not will be back in 2016. The 2016 free agent class is ripe with talent and could help New York’s top men regain some love from their passionate fan base.

In this article BBB writers Matt Cote and James Grande will look at the top ten free agents and predict where they will sign and how that signing will impact the Bronx Bombers.


MATT
1. David Price. The Ace of the Blue Jays will find himself as this winters most sought after man. Price was traded from the Tigers half way through the season and has taken Canada by store leading the Jays to the AL East title. Price will have plenty of suitors this offseason as he is a workhorse lefty and an ace in every sense of the word. With dominating off speed pitches and a powerful fastball Price is the crown jewel on every teams wish list.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: David Price signs a 7 year $205 million dollar deal with the Boston Red Sox.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: This would be a huge blow to the Yankees as their arch rival gets its long coveted ace. The Yankees will be in the bidding but won’t be willing to go over $200 million. In this case the Price is wrong.

2. Johnny Cueto. Another ace who was traded mid season is near the tops of our list. Cueto was a stud for the Reds over the past few years but once they were out of contention he was dealt to the Royals in a pretty impressive sized package. Cueto has not been the pitcher in Kansas City that he was in Cincinnati but is still young with a live arm and has a track record of success. Despite his struggles Cueto is still a top of the line pitcher who will make any team better.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Johnny Cueto signs a 7 year $178 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: Another top starter the Yankees will kick the tires on but concerns on his struggles in the AL will cause them to shy away from his price tag.

3. Zach Greinke: Greinke is expected to opt out of his deal with the Dodgers in hopes of a bigger pay day. Had it not been for the emergence of Cubs star Jake Arrieta than Greinke would be waltzing his way to a CY Young award. Greinke has been as good as advertised since signing LA three years back. He is the ultimate assassin on the mound, quiet, and lethal. No doubt that he is as elite a pitcher as you can find.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Zach Greinke re-signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 6 years and $165 million dollars.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: It seems likely Greinke will stay with the Dodgers, the Yankees certainly have the money to snatch Greinke but his anxiety disorder in the media pressure cooker that is New York City isn’t exactly a match made in heaven.

4. Yoenis Cespedes: The pride of Cuba started the season in Detroit and was dealt to Flushing Queens in July. Since then he has single handedly turned the Mets into a World Series contender with his cannon arm and majestic long ball power. The Mets would love to retain their superstar but if ever there was a guy looking for the most money it is Cespedes.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Yoenis Cespedes signs a 6 year $165 million dollar deal with the Detroit Tigers.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: Let me preface this by saying I think Cespedes could end up a Yankee because he has stated his love for New York. However, Cespedes loved Detroit and the feeling around town was that when the Tigers fell out of the playoff race they would deal Cespedes and then re-sign him this offseason. That was before GM Dave Dombrowski was fired however. I still see Detroit as a likely landing spot.

5. Justin Upton:  Upton was one of AJ Prellers big offseason catches for the Padres and he was basically the only one that really performed as expected. The Padres most certainly won’t have the finds to re-sign Upton and he will look to bring his combination of raw power and speed to a contending team.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Justin Upton signs a 6 year $132 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: Brian Cashman is able to strike a deal and bring the powerful Upton to the Bronx. I think he is the perfect fit for the ballpark to be paired with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran for an elite outfield. Obviously with this signing the Yankees will look to trade 2015 All Star Brett Gardner. The well spoken Upton will easily become a Yankee fan favorite.

6. Jason Heyward: Heyward enjoyed a fine season in his first year with the Cardinals. It seems he really needed to get out of Atlanta and the change of scenery did him  well. Heyward is that rare type of hitter who posses power with great speed. His defensive prowess and smart baseball mind make his a desirable asset for any team.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Jason Heyward re-signs with the St. Louis Cardinals for 5 years and $125 million dollars.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: Heyward’s youth will intrigue the Yankees for sure. His bat would play well with Yankee Stadium’s short porch. However, very rarely do the Cardinals miss out on signing someone they set their eyes on (except Albert Pujols, sorry St. Louis).

7. Jordan Zimmermann: Zimmermann as little as a year ago was seen as the ace of the Nationals even with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. Big Z wasn’t himself in 2015 but he is still a young pitcher with incredible stuff and that is enticing to any team. In my opinion he can easily be one of the best pitchers in baseball again.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Jordan Zimmermann signs a 6 year $145 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: Cashman nets himself another prominent free agent with the righty Zimmermann having better offers but wanting the challenge and honor of donning Yankee pinstripes. He and Masahiro Tanaka will form a nice 1-2 punch.

8. Chris Davis: Davis was the 2013 homerun king and after a poor showing in 2014 his power came back in 2015 and he led the Orioles and AL in big flys. Davis is a pure power hitter, capable of strengthening any lineup with his 40 plus homerun pop. Baltimore will do everything they can to not lose him but any team out there could use a bat like the one Davis carries.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Chris Davis signs a 5 year $110 million dollar deal with the Houston Astros.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: The Yankees are set at first base with Mark Teixeira and young Greg Bird waiting in the wings so their need for Davis isn’t a priority. The Yanks could be in the bidding to drive the price up on others but in the end Houston seems like a good landing spot for the powerful Davis.

9. Hishashi Iwakuma: Japan’s national treasure has been a star since arriving in the Pacific North West. He and Felix Hernandez have made opponents knees buckle for years at cavernous Safeco Field.  He added a no hitter to his resume this past year and will look to cash out in a major way this winter.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Hishashi Iwakuma re-signs with the Seattle Mariners for 4 years worth $75 million dollars.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: The Yankees have a shot with Iwakuma because they can use the success of Hiroki Kuroda and more recently Masahiro Tanaka as a barometer for what Iwakuma can be. Ultimately I think Seattle’s large Asian population and geographic proximity to Japan will push them over the edge but New York stands a real chance at landing Kuma.

10. Ben Zobrist: The super utility man will have his choice of teams, and the winning team can put him at their choice of positions. Zobrist’s versatility is where his value is. While second base seems to be his best position he can play anywhere on the diamond with ease.

PREDICTED DESTINATION: Ben Zobrist signs a 5 year $84 million dollar deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

WHERE THE YANKEES STAND: The Bombers had interest in Zobrist at the deadline but weren’t willing to overspend on a rental. They’ll look into Zobrist again and may become more serious if they chose to deal young Rob Refsnyder. The Pirates tried to get Zobrist at the 2014 deadline but ultimately couldn’t come to a deal. Look for the Buccos to engage hard after him this offseason.

JAMES

1. David Price: DP is obviously the prize possession of this year’s free agent class. 5 out of the past 6 years Price has thrown 200+ innings and the year he didn’t, he was only 14 innings away. I smell a WORKHORSE! Not only does he throw a lot of innings, they’re all effective. He’s one of the game’s elite and at 30 years young, Price has a lot of dominant pitching left. Just last year we saw two of the better pitchers in the league in Jon Lester and Max Scherzer land monster contracts. Lester got $155 and Scherzer got $210 MIL. I expect a contract in between those two, closer to Max.

Predicted Destination: Boston Red Sox sign David Price; 7 years $190 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: The Yanks do need a lefty starter and I expect Brian Cashman and co. to give Price and his agent a call. That being said, we are just one year removed from passing on a deal near $200 MIL with Max Scherzer, I don’t see the Yanks eager to spend this type of money on a starter again ala CC Sabathia, seeing where he is now.

2. Zach Greinke: The CY Young winner from 2009 is back at it again, right in the thick of things hoping to win his second such prestigious award. At 31 he’s put together his best season yet and at the perfect time seeing how he has an opt out in his contract. He’s shown no decline as I’ve previously mentioned he’s gotten better as he’s aged. Greinke will be highly coveted this offseason.

Predicted Destination: Los Angeles Dodgers sign Zach Greinke; 5 years $130 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: When Zach opts out, the Yanks will call knowing the price tag will be too steep. Pitchers over thirty warranting long-term deals aren’t in the Yanks cards any longer.

3. Johnny Cueto: Although the trade to KC hasn’t reached its full potential for Mr. Cueto, he is still an elite pitcher in today’s game. His deceptive delivery and filthy stuff is one of a kind. Despite his semi-injured riddled career, he’s put together a very nice resume. A resume that puts him as one of the top fish in this year’s free agent pond. Being a notch above Lester, and a year younger, I expect a contract a little north of his.

Predicted Destination: Seattle Mariners sign Johnny Cueto; 6 years $160 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: The least likely to sign with New York from this pool of plus pitchers is Cueto, in my opinion. There has never said to be any rumors linking them and like the two pitchers I’ve mentioned before him, the price tag is a little too steep.

4. Chris Davis: Power. Power, Power, Power, Power. If you haven’t heard this guy has POWER. The last four seasons in Baltimore Davis hit 157 homers, including a season where he hit 53, which averages to 39 a year. Davis is going to strike out a lot and that’s a given but you know what you get and he can change the outlook of games with one swing.

Predicted Destination: Toronto Blue Jays sign Chris Davis; 5 years $140 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: The Yanks don’t really have room for Crush. With Teix under contract another year and Greg Bird waiting in the wings, plans to sign Crush would be a bit odd although you can never have enough power in your lineup.

5. Jason Heyward: Once a number one overall prospect in the game of baseball may be finally putting it all together. Probably his best season yet, Heyward is coming off career highs in batting average, hits, stolen bases, and doubles. At 26 he’s a multi-faceted player and can now do anything on the baseball field from hit home runs to robbing them. A defensive wizard that can play any of the three outfield spots is going to garner tons of attention.

Predicted Destination: St. Louis Cardinals sign Jason Heyward; 7 years $155 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: I actually expect the Yankees to make a big push at Jay-Hey. Beltran is gone in one year and the other two outfield spots really under producing, it might be time to spice things up a bit. Ultimately, they’ll fall short.

6. Jordan Zimmermann: For the past 5 seasons, JZim has been a staple for Washington every 5 days. He’s rarely missed any starts and has stayed effective for those 5 years as well. Statiscally though, he had his worst year in 2015. Allowing way more home-runs then he has in years past, which obviously contributed to his spiked ERA. Still after his rough 2015 campaign, he is still only 29 with many years of plus pitching to go.

Predicted Destination: New York Yankees sign Jordan Zimmermann; 5 years $125 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: This is the one big offseason signing I see the Yanks making. He’s not going to look for a Max Scherzer contract and that seems right up the Yanks alley. He’s a surefire number two starter, with stretches he looks like an ace. With he, Tanaka, and the young fire-baller Severino at the top of the rotation going forward, the Yanks can do damage in the AL East and beyond.

7. Yoenis Cespedes: The biggest bat this off-season has to offer in my eyes will have an insanely large phone bill this offseason but that shiny new contract he’s going to get will help. If he played for the Mets the entire season he’d be in the thick of things in the NL MVP race. Unfortunately for him he didn’t but I’m sure he’s fine with that because what he’s done since coming to New York has helped cement one of the biggest contracts we will see this offseason.

Predicted Destination: New York Mets sign Yoenis Cespedes; 6 years $160 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: No way Sandy Alderson lets the cross town team sneak in and swipe their guy from under their noses, right? I don’t think so, but I do expect Cashman to give it a go. Crazier things have happened during free agency.

8. Justin Upton: Justin will get a big deal somewhere, but in my eyes is vastly overrated. When he’s going well, he’s unstoppable, but when he’s bad he hits rock bottom and can’t get hits off batting practice pitching. Maybe this time his brother won’t follow him wherever he goes.

Predicted Destination: Los Angeles Angels sign Justin Upton; 7 years $145 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: Upton will be on their radar for certain. He’s still young, possesses a lot of pop that fits Yankee stadium well, but ultimately fall short to the desperate Angels who will do anything to replace Matt Joyce in the outfield in 2016 and beyond.

9. Hishashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma’s name was swirling around at the deadline before the M’s came out and said they’re going to hold on to him. That’s a clear sign they want to resign and retain him going forward. I already have the M’s signing Johnny Cueto, can you imagine a Felix, Cueto, Kuma, Walker, Paxton rotation going forward? That’s a rotation that can win you a lot of games now and in the future.

Predicted Destination: Seattle Mariners resign Hishashi Iwakuma; 4 years $65 MIL

Where the Yankees stand: I don’t think anyone stands a chance. Kuma has been in Seattle, knows the area, and knows the Mariners want to retain him. Other than a phone call, maybe a couple of conversations with his agent, I don’t see the Yanks and Brian Cashman getting far.

10. Ben Zobrist: The best utility guy the game has to offer really turned his 2015 season around when he landed in KC and ultimately will land him a sweet 2016 free agent contract. I can’t see him staying in KC because he’s not used to his full potential playing the infield and outfield, it’s basically just second base. Elsewhere he could be used as he should be, EVERYWHERE.

Predicted Destination: Chicago White Sox; 3 years $35 MIL

Where the Yanks stand: After turning down a deal for Zobrist at the trading deadline, it seems the Yanks were content with what they had going forward at second base. A report that just circulated the past few days said how the Yanks were strongly considering platooning Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder going forward. If that’s the case, I see them passing on Zobrist once again.

Agree or Disagree? Let us know. One thing’s for sure it will be a great offseason filled with twists and turns for the Yankees. After two seasons of missing the playoffs and a one game wild card loss Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners will get the Yankees back to the top someway somehow.

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