Free Agent Targets: From the 2014 Club

After profiling Pablo Sandoval and Andrew Miller, I realized that I’d be remiss to ignore the Yankees own free agents. There are eight 2014 Yankees that filed for free agency who are on both Fangraphs‘ and MLB Trade Rumors‘ top free agent lists, some that would be very useful in 2015 and beyond. Rather than doing an article on each player, I’ll quickly highlight each one.

David Robertson (Steamer projection: 2.74 ERA/2.83 FIP)

The incumbent closer was hit with a qualifying offer, which I don’t expect him to accept. $15.3M for one season would be astronomical for a reliever, but a team in need would likely offer him a long-term deal for a comparable (albeit slightly less) yearly salary. A plausible fit would be Detroit, whose bullpen was dreadful in 2014. For the Yankees, I already noted that I hope they keep him when I discussed Andrew Miller’s candidacy. The Fangraphs crowd predicts three years and $30-$34M, which I think is slightly underselling Robertson’s value. The verdict: keep him on a three or four-year deal, at $12-13M per season.

Brandon McCarthy (Steamer projection: 3.89 ERA/3.75 FIP)

McCarthy’s career is littered with injuries, but he reached the 200 innings pitched plateau for the first time in 2014. After a midseason trade from Arizona to New York, the right-hander reincorporated his cutter to his arsenal, which was widely declared the reason for his turnaround. He’s probably the fourth-best starter on the market, behind Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields. That being said, he may be the most cost-effective option, with the crowd expecting a three-year, $36-38M contract. At that price, the Yankees should be all over Brandon.

Chase Headley (Steamer projection: .256/.341/.409, 111 wRC+)

Like McCarthy, Headley was picked up in a midyear swap. His monster 2012 with San Diego was probably a blip on the radar, but he did well in his stint with the Yankees and his 2015 projection is solid. Given the looming uncertainties Alex Rodriguez brings, retaining Headley at third base would be astute. He won’t be an easy sign, given that he’s looking for a stable starting role and may be a fallback option for a team that loses out on Pablo Sandoval (Red Sox?). Nonetheless, the good news is that the Yankees have already engaged Chase is contract discussions. The cost? About four years and $50-56M, per the Fangraphs crowd.

Hiroki Kuroda (Steamer projection: 3.89 ERA/3.96 FIP)

Kuroda’s been remarkably steady in his three seasons in the Bronx, but will be 40 in February, meaning it might be time to turn the page before things go sour. That could be why the Yankees decided not to give Hiroki a qualifying offer, as he might have been likely to accept. I wouldn’t be opposed to another one-year reunion with Kuroda, especially if McCarthy departs. However, it could really burn if 2015 is the year Kuroda’s age finally catches up to him.

Stephen Drew (Steamer projection: .221/.297/.364, 84 wRC+)

Drew made a horrible impression with the Yankees after his acquisition from Boston, hitting .150/.219/.271. He’s only one season removed from a 109 wRC+ campaign with the Red Sox, so maybe not all hope is lost, but next season’s projection is still pretty bad. He’ll be 32 in March, and although he’s a good defender, it’s a skill that generally does not age well. Yet, the Yankees need a shortstop for 2015, and he might be the most reasonably priced choice — the crowd foresees one season at $7-10M. With Ian Desmond looming in next winter’s free agent class, it might make sense to use Drew as a stopgap option for 2015.

Chris Capuano (Steamer projection: 3.90 ERA/4.13 FIP)

Yet another midseason pickup, Capuano was decent soaking up innings in the back of the Yankees’ depleted rotation. His projection isn’t bad, but he also hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2012, so I don’t think he’s a guy one can pencil in for 30 starts, let alone 20 or 25. At one year for $4-5M, as the crowd projects, he’s a bargain. Regardless, the Yankees need more substantial upgrades in the rotation, so count Capuano out.

Chris Young (Steamer projection: .228/.309/.399, 97 wRC+)

Fresh off the Mets’ scrap heap, Young flashed some of the power he was once known for in his days with Arizona, hitting three homers and posting a .239 ISO in 79 plate appearances with the Yankees. There’s no role for him as a regular here, and he might wish to latch on with a second-division team to rebuild some of his lost value. The FG crowd thinks he’ll get $5-8M on a one-year pact, which might be a little high on the tail end. On an incentive-laden deal, I’d be interested in retaining Young for some pop off the bench, but that’s about it.

Ichiro Suzuki (.267/.303/.346, 86 wRC+)

Only 156 hits away from 3,000, Ichiro will probably seek out a starting role for a lower-level club. Even so, it would take a big bounceback for the future Hall-of-Famer to reach that amount in 2015. That being said, I’d be shocked if the Yankees brought him back. The initial contract he signed before the 2013 season was a mistake, and I think it’s time for the team to move on. They need a more reliable option to caddy for Carlos Beltran in right field.

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