One week ago, Brian Cashman said re-signing Joe Girardi would be the “first order of business” this offseason. Now that it’s done, the Yankees can get to work on the rest of the list.
1. Re-sign Derek Jeter
Have to get this one out of the way. It’s going to be a story as long it lingers, and it’s going to get done eventually, might as well do it quickly and move on. Chances are, it’s going to be for more money and more years than Jeter’s age and numbers suggest he’s worth. Thing is, that’s the way it works. Players like Jeter are underpaid when they first get to the big leagues, and they’re overpaid as their careers come to an end. All a team can hope for is to get equal value in the middle. When’s the last time a player a signed a 10-year deal, during which he never seemed overpaid.
2. Solidify the rotation
Obviously, this is where Cliff Lee comes into the picture. Going into the season with CC Sabathia as the No. 1, Phil Hughes as the No. 3 and A.J. Burnett as the No. 4 or 5 is a pretty good start, but it only works if the Yankees get a reliable No. 2 starter.
3. Re-sign Mariano Rivera
Because he’s not The Captain, Rivera’s free agency won’t hang over the Yankees the same way as Jeter’s. But it’s still a deal that needs to get done. It might happen before the Yankees land a starter, but I’d say it ranks third in terms of priorities.
4. Make a decision in the outfield
Brett Gardner showed a lot this season, Nick Swisher took a significant step forward and Curtis Granderson turned a corner in the second half. The Yankees have a good outfield. If they want an insanely good outfield, they could make a push for Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. If not, they still need to find a fourth outfield who can fill-in at either corner.
5. Gauge the market for Joba Chamberlain
My friend Wally Matthews made a list like this one and included more or less this very same item. It’s not that I believe Chamberlain is finished – he’s still young with a big arm – but he’s heading for arbitration, which means he about to make real money, and it’s clear the Yankees no longer view him as a potential front-line starter. If another team does, he might be more valuable to the Yankees as a trade chip than as an eighth-inning candidate.
6. Find a pitching coach
I don’t see any reason to let any other member of the coaching staff go. I’d love to see the Yankees find a spot for Dave Miley or Butch Wynegar, who have big league experience and have done great things in Triple-A, but it’s hard to find that kind of opening. Instead, they just need to find a pitching coach. If it’s Scott Aldred, great. If it’s someone outside the organization, great. Just fill the spot and tell him to look up A.J. Burnett’s house on MapQuest.
7. Don’t lose Kerry Wood’s phone number
Chances are, Wood is going to find a job pitching the ninth inning for some other team. I’m not even sure it’ll be a bad team. A contender could easily come calling offering at least a shot at the ninth inning, which is something the Yankees can’t offer him (unless No. 3 on this list goes terribly wrong). But, just in case, I’m sure someone in the front office will hold onto Wood’s number. If he’s not available, another late-inning arm would be a good idea.
8. Big bat, small ego
For the time being, the days of a fulltime, Matsui-type DH are over. But the Yankees still need a guy who can fill that spot fairly regularly, and they need him to be OK sitting fairly often as well. If he can play the field in a pinch, all the better. It’s a role Marcus Thames played very well this season. The Yankees need to find another one of those.
9. Make minor assessments
Next season, it’s entirely possible – if not likely — the Yankees will have Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, D.J. Mitchell, Lance Pendleton, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Jeremy Bleich, Adam Warren and George Kontos jockeying for starts at Double-A or higher. That’s 11 legitimate prospects, and that’s only counting the guys who actually got as high as Double-A this year. Depth is absolutely essential when it comes to pitching, but the Yankees have such a surplus of nearly ready arms that they could prioritize and begin looking for alternatives uses, either in trades or in the bullpen. Does anyone miss Zach McAllister right now?
10. Come up with an Andy Pettitte contingency plan
One way or another, the sooner the better when it comes to Pettitte. If he wants to come back, great. Lock up a one-year deal and consider the middle or bottom half of the rotation complete. If he doesn’t want to come back, at least the Yankees know what they’re up against. Knowing Pettitte, this decision might take a while, and the Yankees need to have a Plan B either in place or in the works.
As an aside, I mentioned that Wally Matthews published a similar to-do list immediately after the ALCS loss. I read it earlier in the week, but intentionally didn’t look back at it until after I’d finished my own. The only thing I remembered about his list was that he suggested trading Chamberlain. Our lists are very similar, mostly because the Yankees offseason needs are pretty straightforward. Frankly, we’ve been talking and writing about most of this stuff since at least the middle of the season.
Also, I came up with this list before Cashman mentioned yesterday that he values a left-handed reliever as a significant priority. I don’t see it as that big of an issue. Cashman does. I’m betting the Yankees will stick with Cashman thoughts on the matter.
Associated Press photos