The Yankees went into last winter with a publicly stated goal of keeping their payroll below $189 million. They came out of it having committed more than $400 million for four new players. This winter, there are no such payroll limitations, at least to our knowledge, but there is still plenty of need. And since there is nothing more fun than playing with another guy's cash, we at ESPN New York will once again aid the Yankees' decision-makers with a little game we like to call "Spend Hal's Money."
Toronto Blue Jays
Today's Candidate: Melky Cabrera
2014 Numbers: $8 million salary, .301-16-73, .351 OBP, .808 OPS, 3.1 WAR
Pros: He's probably the most attractive free-agent outfielder in an admittedly weak market this winter, preferable to Nelson Cruz because of the four-year age difference and probable longer shelf life as an outfielder. Melky put up excellent numbers in three of his past four seasons, even if two of them were tainted by PEDs. He has averaged .313 with 15 HRs and 73 RBIs in his past three full seasons, and he won't turn 30 until next August. He's not a great outfielder, but he's acceptable, and with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner alongside him, he would be plenty good enough. He's a switch-hitter -- always a plus, but even more desirable at Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch.
Cons: Since this is his big chance to cash in, Melky will undoubtedly turn down the Blue Jays' qualifying offer, and he is thought to be seeking three -- maybe four -- years at between $12 million and $14 million a year. And of course, getting the qualifying offer means the Yankees, who do not have a protected pick in the 2015 draft, would have to lose a draft pick in order to sign him. Signing him would accomplish one goal -- he makes them a bit younger -- but his bat, while potent, wouldn't add a whole lot of power to a unit that provides them very little to begin with. (The Yankees got just 47 HRs and a .714 OPS from their outfielders in 2014.) If Carlos Beltran can remain healthy in 2015, is Melky really necessary?
The Verdict: Probably not. He's good player but not a potential game-changer like Cruz or Victor Martinez, both of whom are older but are also likely to demand fewer years, if not fewer dollars. And with the market for outfielders being so weak this year, there will probably be at least one team willing to go to a fourth year. Cabrera had two injuries last season: a broken finger and a potentially more troubling benign tumor that was surgically removed from his spine. All things considered, pass the Melk.