Now that we’ve seen all of the negatives of the Alex Rodriguez story, lets look at the positive to come out of this ruling. The New York Yankees have reclaimed the $25 million salary that they were supposed to pay Rodriguez and are now free to spend it however they please. With that in mind, here are three ways the Yankees could decide to use that money that would benefit them.
It is no secret that Yankees are well below the championship caliber team that fans expect. They (officially) no longer have a starting third baseman, Mark Texeira is returning after missing the entire 2013 season, and Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self. With all that being said, the number one thing the Yankees need right now is starting pitching. CC Sabathia struggled mightily last year, finishing with a 14-13 record and a career high ERA of 4.78. In addition, Ivan Nova was up and down all of last year and Hiroki Kuroda is 38 and also lost some of his momentum in the second half of last year. To make matters worse, the Yankees don’t even have a set #4 and #5 pitcher right now. Now they can look at this two ways.
The first way to look at this is to go for the big splash (in true George fashion) and sign Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In 28 starts last season, the former Rakuten Golden Eagle went an astounding 24-0 with and ERA of 1.27. At only 24 years old, Tanaka has the potential to be the Yankees number one starter going forward. However, Tanaka does not come without risk. As the Yankees know, a lot of Japanese pitchers have struggled with their transition to the MLB. Daisuke Matzusaka, Hideki Irabu, and Kei Igawa are all perfect examples of that. Of course that doesn’t mean that Tanaka will not be the next Yu Darvish, it just means that he could also be the next Hideki Irabu.
If the Yankees decide against the Japanese star, they definitely have other things they can do with that money. One hypothetical scenario would be bringing in a solid starting pitcher with a solid relief pitcher for a total of less money than Tanaka would cost. Two starters that are immediately available are Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both have struggled in the past couple of years and are both likely to command no longer than two-year contracts. Garza in particular, with a career ERA of 3.84, but past AL east experience with his time with the Rays, would cost only around 8-12 million on a year for a short amount of time. With no need for commitment, either of these pitchers can be a good temporary fix to the starting pitcher problem.
As far as the relief pitchers, there is once again a decent crop of short contract players available. Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, and Fransisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez could all be had on 1-2 year contracts for about $12 million. These would all be good temporary players for the Yankees to have if they want to make a chase for the playoffs.
Now this third option may scare most Yankee fans. I is a terrifying notion that will be a new concept to those who love the pinstripes. Save the money. The 2015 free agent market is going to be filled with significantly better crops. Asdrubal Cabrera, Chase Headley, Max Scherzer, and James Shield will be highly coveted players who would fit the Yankees perfectly. Not spending money this year will all but guarantee no playoffs this year, but it may be worth it in the long hall.
What should the Yankees do? Go after Tanaka? Get some short-term player? Maybe save the Money? Let us know what you think it s comments.