Enough about the Cubs…

Waiting for Brian Cashman’s microphone-drop…

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It’s November, the Presidential Election is behind us, and baseball free agency has begun.  The Hot Stove League is officially underway.

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The Yankees may be as inactive this off-season as they were last off-season, but the rumors that they’ve reached out to the agents for notable free agents is activity that we did not see or hear last year.

I am hopeful the Yankees land either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen for the back end of the bullpen.  I’d prefer Chapman for several reasons.  The familiarity with the Yankees (for the player and the fans), and no draft pick compensation attached.  But I would not be disappointed if the Yankees end up with Jansen.  I view them as 1A and 1B.  As good as he is, I am not really interested in a reunion with Mark Melancon.  My 2A choice would probably be Greg Holland.  The price tag for the elite closers may prove to be too much for the Yankees so there’s the chance that Dellin Betances retains his closer role.  I’d place him as my 3A choice given that I’d really prefer to see him return to a setup role and be used more like the way Andrew Miller was handled by Tito Francona after Miller’s arrival in Cleveland.

Aroldis Chapman

Credit:  AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Brian McCann will be traded.  I have no doubt this will happen.  Despite McCann’s desire to stay, it makes too much sense to move him.  The backup catching role can be capably handled by Austin Romine or Kyle Higashioka.  For years, Alex Rodriguez blocked DH, and if on the roster, McCann would do the same thing.  Given the Yankees do not have a huge clutch bat for DH (like Boston did with David Ortiz), I’d prefer to see DH used by young hitters like Tyler Austin who might not otherwise have a spot in the starting lineup or rotate some of the older guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley.  Granted, the Yankees are not going to get two top prospects for McCann even if they eat half of his remaining salary but they should be able to get a return that does provide help in other areas.

I did like the idea of Kendrys Morales as a potential DH signing but now that he’s a Blue Jay (3 years for $33 million), the Yankees will have to look elsewhere if they pursue a free agent or trade candidate.

I understand the reasons the Yankees will non-tender Nathan Eovaldi.  He will miss the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery and it may be a couple of years before he can potentially get back to the progress point he had reached.  It’s equally possible that he never becomes a consistent, dependable starter in the big leagues.  Still, I’ll be saddened to see him go.  I had hoped he would be able to harness his great stuff and prove to be a solid #3 starter in the rotation.  I hope if the Yankees do non-tender him as expected, they attempt to re-sign him on a more reasonable deal that allows the pitcher to recuperate and get back to the Show.

For a team that’s been focused on getting younger, I am so glad that the Yankees did not pursue the two 40-somethings that signed with the Atlanta Braves (R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon).  I am a bit surprised that the Braves are investing in the older pitchers given the youth movement in Atlanta.  This might actually increase the odds that McCann returns to Atlanta, although the Houston Astros are looming as a very strong possibility.

This is also the off-season to move Brett Gardner.  The return may not be as great as it might have been just a year ago, but the Yankees need to open room in the outfield for the younger prospects.  Assuming that Aaron Judge takes right field, the Yankees are stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury in center, so left field is needed for guys like Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams and potentially Clint Frazier.  I guess eventually Ellsbury will need to move to left to make room for Frazier in center, and that could happen as early as the summer of 2017.  Keeping Gardner just delays the inevitable.

With free agent signings and trades starting to happen, I am anxious to hear some Yankees news.  The team definitely needs help for the starting rotation, but that will take a well researched trade or two since there is nothing on the free agent market outside of veteran Rich Hill.  There are no shortage of options for GM Brian Cashman to improve the roster and continue the youth enthusiasm we saw in August and September.

Let’s get this party started!…

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Credit:  New York Daily News

—Scott

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