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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Yankees Rumors: Staying away from Scherzer, Lester, Shields and Sandoval

The New York Yankees might actually be turning the page on the relentless pursuit of the top free agents on the market. According to a report by Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, the Yankees will pass on top free agents Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields and Pablo Sandoval per a team source.

The Yankees spent nearly $500 million on free agents leading into the 2014 season and failed to reach the postseason for the second consecutive year. The News reports that the Yankees will instead pursue Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley, both key trade pieces from the 2014 season.

In McCarthy and Headley, the Yankees will have to invest much less in terms of salary and contract length, plus they’ll avoid losing a draft pick as compensation for the players above who were each extended a $15.3 million qualifying offer.

When Brian Cashman was extended last month, he suggested and was backed by Yankees co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner subsequent statements that the Yankees would begin looking at new ways to rebuild the franchise. They’ve been paying close attention to how the farm system will be run and have put plenty of monetary resources into the international free agent market.

Adding McCarthy to the quartet of CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova would provide the Yankees with a formidable starting five. The Yankees also have David Phelps, Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell at the ready to provide innings in case of injury.

Questions remain about McCarthy’s durability as he’s only reached 200 innings once (2014) in his nine-year career. According to MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams, McCarthy could fetch $36 million over three years. I believe McCarthy can generate sufficient fWAR (approximately 5.1 to 6.5 based on a range of $5.5 million to $7.0 million per 1.0 WAR) over that term to warrant such a deal. McCarthy has turned in an average of just under 2.8 fWAR over the last four seasons.

As for Headley, I’ve been a proponent of bringing him back. It makes absolute sense to have a player who can play both third and first base considering the Yankees have no clue how Alex Rodriguez will perform in the field after missing all of 2014 due to his performance-enhancing drug suspension. Further, Mark Teixeira has continued to show an inability to stay on the field full time.

Headley wants to be an everyday player and I believe the Yankees can provide him sufficient at-bats between the two positions. His above average-glove coupled with a bat that has upside in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium make him an intelligent pursuit.

MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes has Headley penciled in for a four-year/$48 million contract. Such a contract would require Headley to produce a total fWAR value in the 6.9 to 8.7 range over the four years. Headley has averaged close to 4.4 fWAR over the last five seasons and exactly 4.0 over the last two.

The one thing to keep in mind is that this could be total posturing on the Yankees’ part and they could certainly change their minds. However, I’m holding out hope that they are in fact going to stay away from the costly and cumbersome contracts that will be required to ink Scherzer, Lester, Shields and Sandoval.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.