Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and his brain trust will arrive in Orlando this weekend for the MLB Winter Meetings. Thus far, the Yankees have spent much of the offseason concentrating on filling their managerial opening and preparing a presentation for naught in their pursuit of Shohei Ohtani.
With Aaron Boone signed to lead the Yankees and Ohtani out of the picture, New York can concentrate on filling the minimal openings on the roster and potentially make some tweaks to open spots for rising youngsters or to free up payroll for other additions.
Here are some potential dealings (not to be mistaken for deals) the Yankees might be involved in next week:
Get down to business with Sabathia
While the Yankees may have been interested in re-signing CC Sabathia regardless of being able to land Ohtani, they can now concentrate on doing so and have a certain role for the 37-year-old lefty to fill. Sabathia has noted he wants to return to New York, so the question becomes at what rate the Yankees will be willing to pay the rejuvenated pitcher.
Sabathia on a one-year, $12 million contract seems like a reasonable start, with performance/health incentives for innings pitched or starts. It must be considered that Sabathia could receive interest elsewhere, which may increase the cost. While guaranteeing two seasons to Sabathia would be risky considering his balky knee and age, there is a chance that a club would offer a one-year contract with a vesting option for a second season. The Yankees may be interested in this, but would seemingly prefer a straight-up one year deal.
Stanton in the Bronx?
Word came out late Thursday that Giancarlo Stanton would accept a trade to four teams, including the Yankees. Stanton is owed $295 million over the next 10 seasons. For reference, the Giants have the framework of a deal in place, which would send four players to the Marlins and would assume $250 million of Stanton's deal.
The Yankees are looking to get under the luxury tax so their rate resets before next season's exceptional free-agent class hits the market. If the Yankees, who reportedly checked in on Stanton at the trade deadline and earlier this offseason, were to take on the same salary, they will undoubtedly have to reduce payroll by trading from their current roster commitments and it would certainly affect other decisions concerning roster construction.
The Yankees would also need to determine which prospects they would be willing to part with to acquire Stanton. Would they leave the Yankees short in the future? Seeing Stanton in pinstripes in the same lineup as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez would be amazing, but there would several hurdles to jump in order to make it a reality.
Check in on free-agent mid-market starting pitchers
More starters? Yes. The Yankees have a strong core for the rotation under control -- Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka -- but each has possible issues which may limit innings in 2018. Even if the Yankees add Sabathia, it would not be surprising to see them engage in discussions with the second-tier of free-agent starters, like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.
Cobb or Lynn would increase the Yankees rotation depth, but would it hurt the opportunity for young pitchers like Chance Adams to finally hit the big leagues? Not necessarily. As suggested earlier, the injury concerns with Gray and Tanaka, along with keeping innings in check for Severino and Montgomery, there will likely be plenty of innings for Adams (and others) even if Cobb or Lynn were added along with Sabathia.
Gain preliminary feel for the DH market
Another factor of losing out on Ohtani is that the Yankees may perceive to have a vacancy at designated hitter. The Yanks could disperse at-bats among a large group of position players and bench guys, but it's uncertain that's the route they will take.
At this point, the Yankees would not be in a rush to fill the spot, simply because of the numerous available options. Further, if the Yankees were to sign a free agent to assume some DH duties, they would likely want the player to be able to handle backup duties for first baseman Greg Bird.
Determine trade value for current rostered players
Just because the Yankees don't need to fill many holes doesn't mean they won't engage in discussions to improve upon their situation in various spots. If the Yankees want to sign both Sabathia and Cobb for example (or if the Stanton situation gains steam), they may want (or need) to deal away some current payroll commitments to balance the load and maintain their ability to stay below the competitive balance tax.
The Yankees would be ecstatic to rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury's contract, but the reality is they would have to pay down a considerable amount to the acquiring team. That said, saving even one-third of Ellsbury's $21 million-plus average annual salary over the next three years, could offset incoming costs of another player, and maybe more importantly, opens up a roster spot.
Each offseason, the Yankees are asked about Brett Gardner, and this one will not be any different. Gardner is coming off a fine season and his contract ($11 million this season with a $12.5 million club option for 2019) is solid. Gardner would surely be easier to move than Ellsbury, so if pressured into dumping ALL of the salary of an outfielder, the Yanks may be inclined deal their homegrown outfielder.
The Yankees could also try to determine the viability of trading Chase Headley, who is owed $13 million in the final year of his contract. With Gleyber Torres a potential option at third base, Headley could be seen as a moveable commodity. However, chances are that Headley will be in pinstripes in spring training and have a better chance of being traded at the July 31 deadline.
Similarly to Headley, Starlin Castro may garner some interest around the league. He may be more alluring to teams because of his age and economically sound contract ($22 million over two years, including a $1 million buyout for a 2020 club option worth $16 million). And if the Yankees were to deal him, they could move Torres to second base and keep Headley at third. Yet again, the chances of Castro getting dealt this offseason are not strong, as the Yankees may not be willing to bet heavily on Torres being completely ready for the big leagues straight out of spring training.
Finally, expect teams to ask Cashman if he's had enough of Dellin Betances. Betances' wild 2017 season (6.6 BB/9), the additions of Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson and the emergence of Chad Green (yes, he'll be a reliever) have seemingly made Betances expendable. The trick, of course, is receiving value as close to what Betances was worth on the trade market at the beginning of last season vs. the end of it. That will not be simple.
Cashman and company will be busy in Orlando, minimally setting the framework for the rest of the offseason, potentially making a signing or even a splash.