The New York Yankees have 12 free agents heading into the winter and here’s how I would handle them if I were running the team:
Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter had an off year for the Yankees in 2009. He played in 157 games in which he was 179 of 663 (.270 avg, .710 OPS) with 111 runs scored, 10 homers, 67 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Jeter has now played in 2,295 games in his 16 years in pinstripes and he is 2,926 of 9,322 (.314 avg, .837 OPS) with 1,685 runs scored, 234 homers, 1,135 RBIs and 323 stolen bases. Despite having an off year, Jeter is still the best SS available in free agency. VERDICT: Jeter is a legacy and for that reason the Yankees should re-sign him. But only on a 2 or 3 year deal because he’s starting to slide a bit.
Mariano Rivera: 40-year old closer Mariano Rivera is also a Yankees’ legend, but unlike Jeter, he is showing no signs of slowing down. Rivera pitched in 61 games (0 starts) for the Yankees last season and he was 3-3 with 33 saves, a 1.80 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. He has now pitched in 978 games for the Yankees over 16 seasons and he is 74-55 with 559 saves, a 2.23 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. VERDICT: I would re-sign “The Sandman” to a 2 or 3 year deal just like Jeter.
Andy Pettitte: 38-year old lefty starting pitcher Andy Pettitte is still a solid pitcher when healthy. Pettitte pitched in 21 games (all starts) for the Yankees last season and he was 11-3 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Pettitte is also one of the better Yankee pitchers of all-time. VERDICT: I would give Pettitte another one year deal if he wants to keep pitching.
Kerry Wood: 33-year old righty reliever Kerry Wood was outstanding for the Yankees after coming over in a deal with the Indians. Wood pitched in 24 games (0 starts) for the Yankees this year and he was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Wood pitched in 47 games (0 starts) overall with the Indians & Yankees this year and he was 3-4 with 8 saves, a 3.13 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. Wood has a club option worth $11 million bucks for 2011: VERDICT: I would decline Wood’s option and try to re-sign him for a $3-4 million dollar deal to work as Rivera’s set-up man.
Lance Berkman: 34-year old switch hitting 1B/DH Lance Berkman played well during the post season for the Yankees but he wasn’t too good for them during the regular season. Berkman played in 37 games for the Yankees after coming over in a deal with the Astros and he was 27 of 106 (.255 avg, .707 OPS) with 9 runs scored, 1 homer and 9 RBIs. Berkman played in 122 games overall for the Astros & Yankees last season and he was 100 of 404 (.248 avg, .781 OPS) with 48 runs scored, 14 homers, 58 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Berkman has a $15 million dollar club option for 2011 or a $2 million dollar buyout. VERDICT: I would pay Berkman the $2 million bucks and let him walk. His struggles against lefty pitching screams platoon so I think I would go after a better DH.
Marcus Thames: 33-year old righty swinging OF/DH Marcus Thames played in 82 games for the Yankees last season and he was 61 for 212 (.288 avg, .841 OPS) with 22 runs scored, 12 homers and 33 RBIs. He is a very productive hitter who crushes lefty pitching. VERDICT: I would definitely try to re-sign Thames on a 1 or 2 year deal.
Javier Vazquez: 34-year old starting pitcher Javier Vazquez was awful once again for the Yankees in 2010. He pitched in 31 games (26 starts) for the Yankees last season and he was 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. For some reason Yankees’ GM has a man crush on Vazquez. VERDICT: He’s gone.
Nick Johnson: 31-year old lefty swinging 1B/DH Nick Johnson is one of the most brittle players in the majors. He played in 24 games for the Yankees last season and he was 12 of 72 (.167 avg, .693 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 2 homers and 8 RBIs. The Yankees can either pick up Johnson’s option for 2011 valued at $5.5 million bucks or they can buy him out for $250,000 bucks. VERDICT: He will be paid $250K on his way out the door.
Austin Kearns: 30-year old righty swinging outfielder Austin Kearns didn’t play too well for the Yankees. He played in 36 games for the Yankees and he was 24 of 102 (.235 avg, .668 OPS) with 13 runs scored, 2 homers and 7 RBIs. Kearns played in 120 games overall for the Indians & Yankees last season and he was 106 of 403 (.263 avg, .746 OPS) with 55 runs scored, 10 homers, 49 RBIs and 4 stolen bases. VERDICT: The Yankees can do better so I see them letting Kearns walk.
Chad Moeller: 35-year old righty swinging catcher Chad Moeller played in only 9 games for the Yankees last season and he was 3 for 14 (.214 avg, .695 OPS) with 2 runs scored. VERDICT: I would offer him a minor league deal with the idea of stashing him in AAA for another year.
Chad Gaudin: 27-year old righty reliever Chad Gaudin pitched in 30 games (0 starts) for the Yankees last season and he was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERAa and a 1.38 WHIP. He pitched in 42 games (0 starts) overall for the A’s & Yankees and he was 1-4 with a 5.65 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. VERDICT: I would let him walk.
Sergio Mitre: 29-year old righty reliever/starter Sergio Mitre pitched in 27 games (3 starts) for the Yankees last season and he was 0-3 with 1 save, a 3.33 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Don’t be fooled by those numbers as he is still Sergio Mitre: VERDICT: I would let him walk.