Monday, December 8, 2014

Expect productive Winter Meetings for Yankees

As the Winter Meetings kick off Monday in San Diego, California, the New York Yankees are poised to build upon last Friday's big haul of Didi Gregorius and Andrew Miller. What can we expect from the Yanks? If nothing else, expect the Winter Meetings to be productive for the Yankees.

Now that does not mean Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is going to come away with a completed roster by the end of the four-day event. However, he and his staff will at the least make strides toward filling out that roster and getting a better understanding of the market. By the end of the week the Yankees might better understand how they enter spring training hoping to try to get back to the postseason after missing it for two straight seasons.

The Yankees are in need of starting pitching. There is no question that they will look to solidify a rotation chuck full of injury concerns. CC Sabathia missed most of 2014, Ivan Nova is recuperating from Tommy John surgery, Masahiro Tanaka has a time bomb attached to his elbow and Michael Pineda was injured for more than half the 2014 season.

Now with Shane Greene headed to Detroit as part of the deal to get Gregorius to the Bronx, the Yankees are down one pitcher in the depth department. They have David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell, Manny Banuelos and Adam Warren asked to be ready to start in the spring. Only Phelps has a track record as a bonafide big league starter, so it stands to reason that the Yankees will look to fill one, if not two spots before arriving in Tampa.

What’s at question is if the Yankees trade for Gregorius and signing of Miller for less than David Robertson is expecting, has implications on the Yankees' early offseason mantra of not entering into another nine-figure salary with a player. But, with Max Scherzer and Jon Lester still on the market, it’s hard to think that the Yankees won’t eventually get involved with one of them.

It is certainly possible that the Yanks do bypass the big signing and head over to the mid-tier bin for guys like Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel and Francisco Liriano or even try to lure Hiroki Kuroda back to New York. In this circumstance, adding two pitchers seems plausible.

After the rotation concerns, the Yankees have a possible hole to fill at third base. They really liked what Chase Headley offered in his half season of work, but he reportedly has a four-year, $65 million contract offer on the table. If that’s true, the Yankees would seem to be out of the bidding having been said to be interested in no more than three years for Headley. Headley is being pursued by the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins, though both say they are not the team who offered Headley such a gracious deal.

Again, since they saved some cash with Gregorius and Miller, it’s still possible that the Yankees try and work out something with Headley. It is more likely that they ask Martin Prado to be the fulltime third baseman and conduct a spring training competition between Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela for the second base role.

If that comes to fruition, the Yankees could look to sign a guy like Mark Reynolds to play some third base and first base providing some insurance to not only the young kids at second (Prado could shift there if they underperform) and to provide some rest for Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees will still be engaged with Robertson. His market will seemingly unfold now that Miller has signed. If the Yankees fail to come away with a feeling that they’ll be able to secure a Scherzer or Lester, then they may go the inexpensive route for a starter and still try to add Robertson in an effort to completely dominate the end of games with Miller and Dellin Betances. Robertson has been on the Houston Astros’ and Toronto Blue Jays’ radar.

Finally, if they decide to completely part ways with Robertson, there are some relievers out there who could sign short-term deals to be a closer for the Bombers so that Miller and Betances can work as setup men; roles they are completely comfortable with. Relievers such as Jason Grilli, Rafael Soriano, Sergio Romo and Francisco Rodriguez are tested closers and available at this time.

Again, I wouldn’t expect all of these questions to be answered for the Yankees this week. Cashman and his staff will be working on these voids day and night. Further, there will be moves made by teams which could prompt the Yankees to respond, or at least force changes to their plans.

It’s one of the best times of the offseason. Will the Yankees make any moves? Will any of their targets get swooped up by another team? What and who do you think the Yankees should focus on? Let me know in the comments below.

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.