New York Yankees: Spend Hal's Money

Spend Hal's Money: Fans have spoken

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
10:00
AM ET
Tanaka, Cano, McCannAP PhotosWill any or all of these three be Yankees in 2014?
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we have examined potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we called "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Masahiro Tanaka?

  •  
    88%
  •  
    12%

Discuss (Total votes: 17,946)

The Yankees seem to be in tune with their fans. The Bombers' initial plan is to try to win the posting and sign Masahiro Tanaka to go along with inking Robinson Cano. If that works, the Yankees think they may have enough money to reel in at least one more big-time free agent, and one of the top guys on their list is catcher Brian McCann.

This plan lines up with the "Spend Hal's Money" exit polls:

On Tanaka, whom I recommended the Yankees go after, nearly 10,000 votes were cast, with an overwhelming mandate of 86 percent wanting to sign him.

Ultimately, the Yankees will formulate their plans based on how well they project Tanaka can pitch, but they are aware of the buzz Tanaka can bring in terms of season ticket sales. Plus, landing Tanaka would take a sufficient amount of heat off Steinbrenner, as it would clearly demonstrate how he would pay forward the potential tens of millions being saved in luxury taxes and revenue sharing by investing it in the posting fee. Now, going on the assumption that Tanaka's undefeated and almost unhittable season in Japan wasn't a mirage, he seems like a win-win-win for the Yankees.

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Robinson Cano?

  •  
    65%
  •  
    35%

Discuss (Total votes: 11,989)

On Cano, fans are also in tune with the Yankees. They know they could be running into the same old problem with the second baseman; while they want him for the short term -- the next three to five years -- they realize that his mid- to late-30s might not look so great. With that in mind, Wallace Matthews recommended giving Cano the money, but not the years. Wally had a final deal at seven years and around $210 million.

Although I agree with Wally's overall point about the years -- heck, from the Yankees' point of view, it is hard to imagine you would want to go more than five years with the 31-year-old -- I think the length of the deal could help with their $189 million goal. If you give Cano that same $210 million over eight years, then his average annual value would drop from $30 million to $26.25 million.

The way the luxury tax and revenue sharing calculates salary, it is based on the average salary for the life of the contract; you couldn't just pay Cano a million bucks next year and then make it up to him later.

Still, I believe those AAVs, in both the above scenarios, are too high. Cano should probably get around $23 million a year for eight years, which would be a grand total of $184 million. The Cano case will be fascinating, and you seem a bit split on what the Yankees should do; only 58 percent said the franchise should spend Hal's money on the second baseman.

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Brian McCann?

  •  
    80%
  •  
    20%

Discuss (Total votes: 10,183)

For McCann, fans believe he would be a major upgrade over the Chris Stewart/Austin Romine/Francisco Cervelli trio that was on display in 2013. McCann brought in 82 percent of nearly 6,000 votes with the message to ownership being clear to go get him.

McCann, a power-hitting left-handed catcher, makes perfect sense for Yankee Stadium, if the team believes he can remain healthy into his thirties. There will be plenty of competition for him, for sure.

Below, we have separated the wants from the don't wants, and the fans continue to be in line with what the Yankees have planned. In parentheses next to their names are the percentage of "spend" votes each player received.

SPEND HAL'S MONEY ALL-STARS: Tanaka (86), McCann (82), Hiroki Kuroda (64) Cano (58), Carlos Beltran (54)

SPEND HAL'S MONEY CUTS: Shin-Soo Choo (46), Chase Headley (45), Jacoby Ellsbury (44), Curtis Granderson (42), Jhonny Peralta (42), Matt Garza (39), Tim Lincecum (37), Nelson Cruz (31), Mike Napoli (31), Josh Johnson (30), Ricky Nolasco (20), Stephen Drew (19).

To read all of the "Spend Hal's Money" entries, click here.

Spend Hal's Money: Mike Napoli

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
10:00
AM ET
Mike NapoliJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesItching to see Mike Napoli trim his Boston beard for an arrival in the Bronx?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Mike Napoli?

  •  
    30%
  •  
    70%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,338)

Today's Candidate: Mike Napoli
Position: 1B/C
Age: Turns 32 on Thursday
Height: 6-0
Weight: 220
2013 numbers: .259-23-92, .842 OPS in 139 games for the Boston Red Sox.

Expected going rate: Napoli played on a one-year deal in 2013 for a bargain-basement $5 million in guaranteed salary, but incentive bonuses based on playing time boosted his paycheck to $12 million. He had a pretty good ALCS to go along with a productive year, so he probably won't need any incentive clauses to make more than that next year.

The pros: He's a right-handed power bat with the versatility to play first, catch or serve as a DH. He served as a potent addition to the Red Sox lineup, was fairly clutch all season -- he batted .458 with the bases loaded and hit three grand slams, one fewer than the entire Yankees team in 2013. He's an adequate fielder who hit well -- .333 with three HRs in 36 at-bats -- in limited DH duty. His 73 walks in 2013 would have led the Yankees and his .360 OBP would have been second only to Robinson Cano's .383, but he was hitting in a much deeper and more dangerous batting order.

The cons: Napoli's chronic hip condition keeps him from being a full-time catcher again, and the Yankees already have a better option at first in Mark Teixeira, who is signed through 2016. Napoli struck out an unacceptable 187 times last season. Also, his BABIP -- that's Batting Average on Balls in Play for you non SABR-geeks -- was an inordinately high .367 (the league average was .298), meaning either he was hitting the ball extraordinarily well, or in extraordinary good luck. And, oh yeah, he would have to shave.

The verdict: If Napoli could be persuaded to spend half the season behind the plate and the other half as a DH, he might well be worth a serious look. But the likelihood is low, as the avascular necrosis in his hips -- the same injury that ended Bo Jackson's career -- has ended his days as a catcher. In that case, there's no spot on the field for him. Certainly, he would make a better right-handed DH than Vernon Wells, but Wells is signed for another year. A reluctant pass.

Spend Hal's Money: Jhonny Peralta

October, 30, 2013
10/30/13
10:00
AM ET
Jhonny PeraltaLeon Halip/Getty ImagesWould you like to see Jhonny Peralta roaming the left side of the Yankees' infield?
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are examining potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Jhonny Peralta?

  •  
    40%
  •  
    60%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,608)

Candidate: Jhonny Peralta
Position: SS/3B
Age: 31
Height: 6-2
Weight: 215
2013: .303, 11 HRs, 55 RBIs, .815 OPS

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: Peralta is a member of the Biogenesis All-Stars, which complicates his market value. Without that black mark, it is hard to believe he would be under consideration by the cost-conscious Yankees. But the fact he admitted to taking PEDs and accepted a 50-game suspension clouds his future.

One baseball official predicted most teams will not hold his involvement in Biogenesis against him. First off, the official pointed out there is no telling if Peralta, or anyone else caught, will stop using PEDs. Teams want production no matter what they may say publicly.

Peralta offers a lot of the same traits that Stephen Drew could for the Yankees. The Yankees have uncertainty on the left side of the infield with Derek Jeter's injuries and Alex Rodriguez's possible suspension. Peralta could play short or third, but I just don't see why he would want to be the third man in the Jeter-A-Rod drama.

Plus, Peralta will still likely receive a multiyear deal. He made $6 million in 2013. I think he will get more than that annually this offseason.

VERDICT: Pass. That would be the initial response. However, if the Yankees miss out on Robinson Cano, then plan B could call for trying to fortify a number of positions -- meaning the Yankees will want to say in touch with Peralta for a possible late run.

Spend Hal's Money: Nelson Cruz

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
10:00
AM ET
Nelson CruzAP Photo/Tim SharpWould Nelson Cruz be a hit in the Bronx?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Nelson Cruz?

  •  
    32%
  •  
    68%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,302)

Today's candidate: Nelson Cruz
Position: Outfielder (RF)
Age: Turns 34 on July 1
Height: 6-2
Weight: 230 pounds
2013 numbers: .266-27-76 with an .833 OPS in 109 games for the Texas Rangers

Expected going rate: Avoided arbitration by signing for $10.5 million last winter, is expected to seek a deal for three years at about S11 million per. Not outrageous and probably less than the Yankees would have to spend to hold onto Curtis Granderson.

The Pros: Tough to judge off his abbreviated 2013 season, but his power numbers were in line with his career averages. Not a great RBI guy -- his high is 90 in 2012 -- but his OBP (.327) would have been third-high on the injury-depleted 2013 Yankees, and his OPS was better than any Yankee not named Robinson Cano. Doesn't hit for average (.268 career hitter), but on the plus side, isn't terrible against righties (.262), eliminating need for a platoon. Should be well-rested after sitting out his 50-game suspension for involvement with Biogenesis.

The Cons: A right-handed batter, which means he will probably not benefit from the cozy right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. A subpar outfielder -- can you imagine how Yankee fans would have reacted if he blew the last out of a potential World Series clincher the way he did in Game 6 of the 2011 Series for Texas? -- whose offensive contributions might be negated by his defensive liabilities. Strikes out a fair amount. Not Granderson-type K numbers, but can be counted on for 120 or so whiffs in a full season and was averaging a K a day until he got suspended in August, with 109 Ks in 109 games.

The verdict: An intriguing possibility, especially since the price tag may not be prohibitively high, and if the Yankees weren't already committed to $6.5 million for Ichiro Suzuki would be worth a look. But there might be better, and even cheaper, options out there. Pass.

Spend Hal's Money: Josh Johnson

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
10:00
AM ET
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Nathan DenetteDo you want this man pitching for the Yankees in 2014?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Josh Johnson?

  •  
    31%
  •  
    69%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,192)

Today's candidate: Josh Johnson
Position: Starting pitcher
Age: Turns 30 on Jan. 31
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 250 pounds
2013 numbers: 2-8, 6.20 ERA in 16 starts with Blue Jays

Expected going rate: Johnson made $13.75 million the past three seasons, but shouldn’t get anything close to that this time around, considering the right-hander has been significantly hampered by injuries in two of the past three seasons.

Historically, oft-injured pitchers with a history of quality work (even if it’s a distant history) get contracts with incentive packages, like the one the Mets gave Shaun Marcum last season ($4 million base).

Johnson’s history rates better than Marcum’s, so figure his base deal will be more than that. Fangraphs.com, which runs polls to project free-agent contracts (with a strong level of accuracy) had Johnson getting a two-year deal worth between $18.3 and $19.9 million.

The pros: When Johnson is fully healthy, he is capable of being an ace, or something close to it.

In 2009 and 2010, he posted a 2.80 ERA and 3.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61 starts.

Back then, his fastball clocked in at 95 mph and was impossible to hit for power against because he could locate it so well. Johnson’s slider was also among the hardest in baseball (87 mph) over that two-year period.

Johnson is also not necessarily as bad as he looked in 2013. Though his ERA was 6.20, his strikeout-to-walk ratio and volume of fly balls allowed were more suggestive of a 3.58 ERA.

The cons: Johnson has had a litany of injuries to his right arm that have limited him to an average of 19 starts per season over the past seven years, with three seasons in which he made fewer than 15 starts and another (2013) in which he only made 16.

In 2007, he had two separate disabled-list stints, then ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2011, he had right shoulder inflammation. In 2013, he had right-triceps inflammation and a strained forearm, then had an operation to remove a bone spur last month.

Johnson’s average fastball was at 93 mph last season. Much like CC Sabathia, the lost velocity isn’t something that would seem likely to come back.

The verdict: Johnson is going to be one of the most intriguing free agents this winter because of the combination of tantalizing potential and legitimate risk. He probably makes the most sense for a team looking to go bargain-hunting.

The Yankees have enough resources that they don’t need to invest in a pitcher of this nature. They can pursue pitchers with a bit more performance certainty.

Let someone else roll the dice on Johnson. Our call is to pass.

Spend Hal's Money: Stephen Drew

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
10:00
AM ET
Stephen DrewJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesWould Stephen Drew want to deal with the drama in the Yankees' infield?
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Stephen Drew?

  •  
    22%
  •  
    78%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,302)

Candidate: Stephen Drew
Position: SS
Age: 30
Height: 6-0
Weight: 190
2013: .253, 13 HRs, 67 RBIs, .777 OPS

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: Last winter, Stephen Drew reportedly accepted less money to join Boston instead of becoming a Yankee. Drew would have had to move to third in place of a then-injured Alex Rodriguez. He also would have provided insurance for Derek Jeter.

Instead, Drew chose the Red Sox and their $9.5 million offer because he wanted to be a shortstop. So now, even if the Yankees went after him hard, why should anyone think Drew would want any part of the Bronx?

The Yankees, an official with knowledge of their plans said, are going to target the left side of the infield, realizing they still have great uncertainty in that area. But Drew would need to have a high tolerance for drama if he was to sign with the Yankees.

Drew would have to deal with the Jeter and A-Rod situations. Jeter plans on coming back and playing a lot of shortstop. If he can, Drew would not be able to play the position he covets. If Jeter is unable to go out there, Drew would have to deal with being the guy who replaced Jeter. Why would he want to do that, if he has options?

What could really make Drew a nonstarter for the Yankees is if the Red Sox were to give Drew a qualifying offer. He would then cost them a first-round pick, which would add to his price tag.

With a lagging farm system, the Yankees can't afford to lose a high draft choice for what is essentially a luxury item.

VERDICT: Pass. Drew is a good player, but he is a Plan-B guy, in my opinion. If the Yankees strike out on Robinson Cano and have a lot of money to spread out, maybe he comes into the picture as the team tries to put together a more complete roster. Until then, I don't see it.

Spend Hal's Money: Jacoby Ellsbury

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
10:00
AM ET
Jacoby Ellsbury Winslow Townson/Getty ImagesShould the Yankees try to lure Jacoby Ellsbury across enemy lines this winter?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Jacoby Ellsbury?

  •  
    44%
  •  
    56%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,081)

Today's Candidate: Jacoby Ellsbury
Position: Center fielder
Age: Turned 30 on Sept. 11
Height: 6-1
Weight: 195
2013 numbers: .298-9-53 with a .781 OPS in 134 games for the Boston Red Sox.

Expected going rate: Steep. Ellsbury made $9 million last year, and with his tools and relative youth, he will command plenty of attention on the free-agent market. Having the showcase of an excellent postseason so far, and a World Series, doesn't hurt, either. And, oh yeah, his agent's name is Scott Boras.

The Ups: Speed and more speed. Ellsbury is a prototypical, top-of-the-order hitter who gets on base a lot -- his .355 OBP was better than any AL center fielder's other than Mike Trout's -- and isn't afraid to steal. He's led the league in steals in three of his four full (non-injury-shortened) big league seasons, peaking with 70 swipes in 2009. His 32 home runs in 2011 was obviously an aberration -- he hasn't reached double figures in any other season -- but as a left-handed bat, he might hit 15 or so at Yankee Stadium. He also won a Gold Glove and finished second in the AL MVP voting in 2011.

The Downs: Injuries and more injuries. He had broken ribs in 2010, a separated shoulder in 2012 and a broken foot this year. He has missed substantial time in three of his past four seasons. Plus, his price. In addition to the Red Sox, there could be as many as a half dozen bidders for Ellsbury. Then, the position. The Yankees already have a center fielder. And the style of play. Brett Gardner is a similar player in almost all respects, except he doesn't steal as often. How many Brett Gardners does a lineup need?

The verdict: Pass. Ellsbury is a very good player, but not really a fit for the Yankees' lineup or budget. With Gardner in center, they need power at the corners. And if you move Gardner to a corner, you need power out of the center fielder. Better off looking elsewhere.

Spend Hal's Money: Shin-Soo Choo

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
10:00
AM ET
Shin-Soo ChooAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesShin-Soo Choo could shore up the Yankees' outfield -- but he'll be expensive.
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Shin-Soo Choo?

  •  
    46%
  •  
    54%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,115)

Candidate: Shin-Soo Choo
Position: Outfielder
Age: 31
Height: 5-11
Weight: 205
2013: .285, 21 HRs, 54 RBIs, .885 OPS

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: Choo might turn out to be the top outfielder on the Yankees' board, but that doesn't guarantee they will go after him hard. Choo holds an edge over Jacoby Ellsbury because he is less injury-prone and not as reliant on his legs. Choo is a year younger than Curtis Granderson and is considered a better defender, but not as powerful a hitter. Compared with Carlos Beltran -- whom the Yankees like -- Choo is more durable.

But Choo might be a luxury item for the Yankees. After Cano, he is in the mix, along with Ellsbury and Brian McCann, as the second-most coveted offensive free agent on the market. (If teams overlook Granderson's 2013 injuries, he could be considered as well.)

Choo is going to require big bucks. The Yankees have money to shell out, but the outfield is not the top priority, though they figure to add a big bat there if they are unable to sign Cano. If Cano re-signs, they could still try to go for an outfielder, but may opt to fill bigger needs.

If Cano flees, then the Yankees could turn to Choo or Ellsbury for speed, or Granderson or Beltran for power. However, some believe Choo's career is about to take a turn downward.

He only hit .215 against lefties this year, though one scout pointed out his on-base percentage was still .347 against southpaws because he walked a lot. His overall OBP was .457, which could add up to a pretty lethal combination with Brett Gardner. It wouldn't be a classic Bronx Bomber look, but it could be exciting to watch.

Still, if the Yankees are going to add a bat to the outfield, Brian Cashman's history would suggest he would want power -- especially from the left side -- which would favor Granderson or Beltran.

VERDICT: Pass. Choo is a very good player, but the Yankees need to allocate their offensive money toward power, meaning Cano, Granderson and/or Beltran would be ahead of him on the list.

Spend Hal's Money: Tim Lincecum

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
10:30
AM ET
Tim LincecumAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezWould The Freak be a fit in the Bronx? You tell us.
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Tim Lincecum?

  •  
    37%
  •  
    63%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,032)

Today's candidate: Tim Lincecum
Position: RH Starting Pitcher
Age: Turns 30 on June 15
Height: 5-11
Weight: 170
2013 numbers: 10-14, 4.37 ERA in 32 starts for the San Francisco Giants

Expected going rate: He's coming out of a two-year, $40.5 million deal with the Giants, but he can't expect anything close to that now. He's reportedly seeking a short-term deal -- presumably at lesser money -- to rebuild his value. Wild guess is $12 million a year for two years gets it done.

The pros: He's still young and not all that far removed from his back-to-back Cy Young Award seasons and a three-year period when he was one of the toughest pitchers in the National League to hit, and its strikeout leader for three seasons in a row. He showed some degree of bounce back in 2013 after a miserable 2012. His willingness to take a short-term deal shows he has faith in his ability to regain the form he showed from 2008 to 2010.

The cons: He has steadily lost velocity on his fastball over the past three seasons, from an average of 94 to the 89-91 range he shows now. As a result, he gets fewer swings and misses than he once did. His control, once an asset, has become a liability. Most alarmingly for a pitcher whose home would be Yankee Stadium, he has become a home run machine, allowing 21 against NL clubs in 2013 and 23 in 2012, when he was so ineffective he was demoted to the bullpen for the Giants' World Series run. His ERA of 4.37 last season was a significant improvement over 2012's 5.18, but still more than half a run higher than the NL average (3.73). A West Coast native, Lincecum is said not to want to relocate to an East Coast team. To cap it off, the Yankees rarely gravitate toward pitchers of Lincecum's slight frame and relatively short stature, believing they break down more easily.

The verdict: The evidence overwhelmingly says that The Freak would not be a fit in the Bronx. He's too small, is too liable to allow the long ball and has too much to prove. Let him rebuild his career elsewhere and check in on him again in a couple of years.

Spend Hal's Money: Ricky Nolasco

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
10:00
AM ET
NolascoMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRicky Nolasco ERAs from 2009-12 -- 5.06, 4.51, 4.67 and 4.48 -- don't translate well to the AL East.
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Ricky Nolasco?

  •  
    20%
  •  
    80%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,235)

Today's candidate: Ricky Nolasco
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: Turns 31 on Dec. 13
Height: 6-2
Weight: 223
2013 numbers: 13-11, 3.70 ERA in 33 starts for Marlins, Dodgers

Expected going rate: Nolasco earned $11.5 million in 2013, pitched a full season without injury and had the second best ERA of his career. That’s going to merit a raise, though just how much will depend on how many teams are interested in his services.

Edwin Jackson rates as a reasonable comparison to Nolasco. Jackson’s career ERA heading into free agency last offseason was 4.40, a hair higher than Nolasco’s current 4.37 in a similar number of starts. The Cubs gave Jackson four years and $52 million. That would seem to be a logical starting point for any team that wants Nolasco.

The pros: Nolasco has averaged 32 starts and 199 innings over the past three seasons. He is coming off the second best season of his career and is highly regarded among those who study advanced stats because of his 3.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate and reasonable home run rate.

Nolasco’s career Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) -- a stat that estimates what a pitcher’s ERA should be based on his strikeouts, walks and homers allowed -- is 3.76, so some feel his 4.37 career ERA was inflated by factors such as poor defense and bad luck.

Like Matt Garza, whom we reviewed last week, Nolasco shows flashes of brilliance from time to time. He had a six-start stretch in August and September in which he had a 1.32 ERA, including one start in which he pitched eight two-hit innings against the Red Sox. Every so often he revs up a start with a double-digit strikeout total. He has 14 career 10-plus strikeout games, with a high of 16 against the Braves in 2009.

The cons: In between his 3.52 ERA in 2008 and 3.70 in 2013, Nolasco had a four-season stretch in which his ERA ranged from 4.48 to 5.06, and that was in the National League, not the American League East.

Nolasco can be inconsistent. He gave up 19 runs in 12 innings in his three starts following that hot stretch in August and September.

Nolasco doesn’t allow a lot of home runs, but does allow a lot of solid hits. His line-drive rate over the past two seasons rates highest among starting pitchers (21.4 percent).

While he makes every turn, Nolasco doesn’t necessarily qualify as an innings eater. He ranks 48th in innings per start among the 80 pitchers who made at least 50 starts over the past two seasons.

THE VERDICT: If you didn’t want Garza (and you voted 2-to-1 against him), you’re probably not going to want Nolasco either. But he’s likely to be pursued hard by teams that buy into his advanced stats. This will probably push up his price and make him too rich a proposition for the Yankees. Pass.

What do you think? Vote and share your thoughts in the comments.

Spend Hal's Money: Masahiro Tanaka

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
10:00
AM ET
Masahiro TanakaThe Yomiuri Shimbun/AP ImagesMasahiro Tanaka could bring some buzz to the Bronx.
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Masahiro Tanaka?

  •  
    88%
  •  
    12%

Discuss (Total votes: 17,946)

Candidate: Masahiro Tanaka
Position: Pitcher
Age: 24 (turns 25 on Nov. 1)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 225
2013: 24-0, 1.27 ERA in Japan

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: The Yankees need to enter 2014 with more pitching and some extra buzz. Tanaka may be the man who could provide both. The Yankees have examined him thoroughly, trying to find out if he is the next Yu Darvish or the next Kei Igawa.

Since the Igawa failure, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been wary of the double-whammy of shelling out both a posting fee and a salary. Cashman is quick to point out the differences between American and Japanese baseball, beginning with the fact that in Japan, starters go on more than five days rest. The Yankees liked Darvish as a pitcher, but did not make a serious run for him during the posting.

Tanaka certainly has the numbers, having gone 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA this season in Japan. Baseball America's Ben Badler said Tanaka may have the best splitter in the world, while one prominent agent described Tanaka as a No. 3 or 4 starter in the majors.

The Yankees are expected to bid on Tanaka, and for good reason.

Using the Japanese market makes a lot of sense in the winter of 2013-14, because if the Yankees' scouting reports project Tanaka as an above-average starter, he'll be a Triple-crown acquisition -- making baseball, financial and public relations sense.

From a purely baseball standpoint, the Yankees need another starter. Right now, they have 40 percent of a staff, and that 40 percent is not guaranteed to be good. The Yankees hope CC Sabathia returns to being an ace while praying that Ivan Nova can be a consistent No. 2 or 3 for an entire season without taking his annual summer vacation to Scranton. They don't know if Hiroki Kuroda will return. They don't know what they will receive from Michael Pineda. And they don't really know yet what they have in David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno or David Huff. So they definitely have a need on the field.

The finances make sense because it helps them to justify, as well as reach, Steinbrenner's goal of dropping the team's salary beneath the $189-million threshold. Tanaka may cost the Yankees a total outlay of $120 million or more, but only half of that would apply toward the luxury tax and revenue sharing.

If Tanaka is what some scouts believe he is, then at a contract similar to Darvish's, the Yankees could have a quality, maybe elite, starter for a little less than $10 million per season. That is $2 million less than what Andy Pettitte made in 2013. So the money, while a lot, seems like it adds up.

Lastly, the Yankees need some buzz. Now, ultimately, I'm not a big fan of making moves based on PR. My feeling is if you win, the fans will come; make good baseball decisions and the rest will take care of itself. But the mystery of Tanaka is an added bonus. He will create a sense of excitement and -- if he is really good -- give the Yankees a lift as they transition to a new era.

VERDICT: Go get Tanaka!

Spend Hal's Money: Chase Headley

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
10:00
AM ET
Chase Headley Mike McGinnis/Getty ImageThe Yankees might not have the chips to trade for Chase Headley.
Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Chase Headley?

  •  
    45%
  •  
    55%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,232)

Candidate: Chase Headley
Position: 3B/OF
Age: 29
Height: 6-2
Weight: 220
2013: .250, 13 HRs, 50 RBIs, .747 OPS

SHOULD THE YANKEES SPEND HAL'S MONEY?: The San Diego Padres would trade Headley for the right player package, according to a baseball official familiar with the team's thinking. However, they value Headley and consider him a vital part of their team. Consequently, as the source put it, it would have to be a "compelling" offer.

For 2014, Headley will receive a raise from his nearly $9 million salary, and most teams giving up their top players want prospects who are almost ready for the majors. The Yankees don't have many of those, which would make a trade very difficult.

One of the major failings of the Yankees' minor league system right now is that they don't have the chips for a guy such as Headley. Maybe they could headline a deal with RHP Ivan Nova, but that doesn't make sense because, at the moment, he is their No. 2 starter. Besides Nova, the Yankees don't have many -- any? -- young, controllable, MLB-ready players for the next few years.

Beyond this huge hurdle, Headley would make a lot of sense for the Yankees because of his versatility as both a third baseman and an outfielder. This flexibility would give them a cushion with Alex Rodriguez's suspension and fragility.

Headley finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in 2012 when he hit .286 with 31 homers and 115 RBIs. Those numbers dropped off in 2013. Still, he is the type of guy the Yankees would love to add.

VERDICT: Try to trade for him. How? That's for Brian Cashman to figure out, because I don't exactly see an easy way.

Spend Hal's Money: Carlos Beltran

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
10:00
AM ET
Carlos BeltranScott Rovak/USA TODAY SportsShould the Bombers bring out the bucks for Carlos Beltran?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Carlos Beltran?

  •  
    55%
  •  
    45%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,966)

Today's Candidate: Carlos Beltran
Position: Outfield
Age: Turns 37 on April 24
Height: 6-1
Weight: 210
2013 numbers: .296, 24 HRs, 84 RBIs, .830 OPS in 145 games for the St. Louis Cardinals

Expected going rate: Beltran made $13 million a year in both of his previous one-year deals with the Cardinals, a considerable pay cut from his days with the Mets, when he was paid in excess of $19 million a year for the last three seasons of a seven-year deal. Coming off a fine season, he will probably want to get back to those kinds of numbers.

The pros: He can still hit for some power; he was among the top five NL right fielders in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS, and his on-base percentage was a respectable .339, which would have been third-highest among Yankees regulars this season, behind only Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner. And the infamous called third strike that ended the 2006 NLCS notwithstanding, he doesn't strike out nearly as much as Gardner, Alfonso Soriano or Curtis Granderson. Beltran could play center field in a pinch, although hasn't played there regularly since 2008. He's also a good clubhouse guy.

The cons: A former three-time Gold Glove center fielder, Beltran graded out the lowest of all NL right fielders in range and arm strength according to defensive metrics, which you may or may not fully trust. He was considered injury-prone as a Met and has a history of knee problems, although he was durable enough to play 137 games in right field this season and 132 games in right field in 2012. He's not young, and assuming he replaces Granderson on the roster, actually makes the Yankees older than they are now.

The verdict: A lot of it depends on whether Granderson accepts a one-year qualifying offer from the Yankees. At about $14 million, one more year of Grandy is a much better option than several years of Beltran. Also, there are better, and younger, options out there if the Yankees choose to commit years and dollars to an outfielder. Think Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom probably have more good years left than Beltran. Is he a better option for right field than Ichiro Suzuki? Definitely, but at this stage of both their careers, that's not saying all that much. I say pass.

Spend Hal's Money: Hiroki Kuroda

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
10:00
AM ET
Hiroki Kuroda Elsa/Getty ImagesShould the Yankees spend on Hiroki Kuroda?
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

Today's Candidate: Hiroki Kuroda
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: Turns 39 on Feb. 10, 2014
Height: 6-1
Weight: 205
2013 numbers: 11-13, 3.31 in 32 starts for the Yankees

Expected going rate: Kuroda made $15 million on a one-year deal with the Yankees in 2013. Can't imagine he would re-sign for anything less than that for 2014.

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Hiroki Kuroda?

  •  
    64%
  •  
    36%

Discuss (Total votes: 5,438)

The Pros: For the first four months of the season, there was no question about who the Yankees' best starting pitcher was. Through July, Kuroda was 10-6 with a 2.38 ERA and while a Cy Young was unlikely because of a proliferation of terrific AL starting pitching this year, he certainly belonged in the conversation. Threw a complete-game shutout on April 14 and could be counted on to pitch into the seventh inning virtually every time out. Seamlessly took over the role vacated by CC Sabathia, and while he may not have single-handedly kept the Yankees in the race, he was a big part of why they were still in contention as late as August 1. For the first 22 starts of the season, Kuroda was a consummate pro who could stabilize a shaky rotation.

The Cons: As good as Kuroda was for the first four months, that's how bad he was over the last two. In August and September, Kuroda went 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA and suddenly became shockingly hittable; after allowing just 12 HRs and 36 extra-base hits in his first 22 starts, gave up 8 HRs and 33 XBH over his last 10. The Yankees speculated that the innings load had worn him down, but his ineffectiveness began when he had barely pitched 140 innings, raising suspicions that he was injured, or worse, that his age had caught up with him. Combined with a September Swoon in 2012, his first season as a Yankee, it made you wonder if he would be effective as a postseason pitcher should the Yankees rebound next season.

The Verdict: If there were a stronger crop of free-agent pitchers available this winter, it would be a lot easier to say thank you to Kuroda and bid him farewell. However, the pitchers who will be out there -- Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Dan Haren, Bronson Arroyo, and yes, A.J. Burnett and Bartolo Colon, among others, are all suspect in one way or another, and most are likely to command multi-year deals. Kuroda's history is to seek a one-year deal, so if the Yankees can buy time by bringing him back for one more season, it might be worth the risk, especially with Andy Pettitte's $12 million salary coming off the books. Any more than that, forget about it.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Spend Hal's money: Matt Garza

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
10:00
AM ET
We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a new feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."

Today's candidate: Matt Garza
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: Turns 30 on Nov. 26
Height: 6-4
Weight: 215
2013 numbers: 10-6, 3.82 ERA, 24 starts for Cubs and Rangers

Expected going rate: Veteran free-agent starting pitchers can be pricey. It would make sense for Garza's agent to point to Garza's former teammate, Edwin Jackson, who got four years and $52 million from the Cubs last season and say "My guy is better than that."

Garza's career numbers are comparable to those of Anibal Sanchez (Sanchez is listed as his fourth-most comparable player on Baseball-Reference.com) and the Tigers gave Sanchez five years and $80 million this past offseason.

The pros: The good version of Garza is an above-average starting pitcher. Over the past three seasons, he has an ERA of 3.62 and a strikeout-to-walk rate of better than 3-to-1.

He had stretches in which he pitched like a high-end starter, such as his last six starts for the Cubs prior to his trade to the Rangers (1.24 ERA in 43 2/3 innings)

Garza has a good history against the Yankees AL East rivals. He's pitched well in Rogers Centre and decently in Fenway Park and Camden Yards. He beat the Red Sox twice in the 2008 ALCS.

Garza won't cost the Yankees a draft pick. Since he was traded in midseason, he is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer (if the Yankees sign a free agent who receives a qualifying offer, it would cost them a first-round pick).

The Steamer projection for Garza in 2013 per Fangraphs.com is a 3.94 ERA over 173 innings. That's basically a match for what the Yankees got from Andy Pettitte in 2013.

SportsNation

Should the Yankees spend Hal Steinbrenner's money on Matt Garza?

  •  
    39%
  •  
    61%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,221)

The cons: Garza has made 18 and 24 starts the last two seasons due to a pair of injuries (elbow, strained lat), so his ability to stay healthy will be a concern. He typically throws about 20 sliders a game, which can be hard on the arm.

Garza described by his teammates and emotional and ultra-competitive (it was awhile ago, but in 2008 he did get into a fight with his catcher in the Rays dugout) which might not be the best fit for someone prone to giving up home runs who would have to pitch in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium 16 times a year.

Lastly, though there were some free-agent signings last year that looked good in Year 1 (Sanchez and Zack Greinke among them), long-term starting pitcher signings are dicey. There are definitely more Carl Pavanos than Mike Mussinas.

THE VERDICT: Signing Garza would be a bit of a risk, one the Yankees might not be looking to take given their desire to stay under a payroll of $189 million. Our verdict would be to pass on Garza if he's looking for Sanchez-type money, but to put him on their short list if he can be garnered for something closer to Jackson dollars.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146