The Yankees have started their big off-season the right way

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

Now that the rival Red Sox have won the World Series, the Yankees can now fully concentrate on improving their team for next season by improving their talent level to make sure they are able to reach the postseason, and rebound from not making it this season after having 21 players land on the disabled list.

The first move of significance happened today as the Yankees brought back Derek Jeter on a 1-year, $12 million contract for 2014. Hal Steinbrenner agreed to give Jeter more money because of Jeter’s reputation. Jeter, who only played 17 games last season because of three different stints on the disabled list, made $17 million last season, and will be make $5 million less this season. However, he will be making $2.5 million more than if he would have accepted the $9.5 million player option that was on the table.

If anybody deserves a pay upgrade from the player option it is Derek Jeter. He is a future Hall of Famer, has 3,316 career hits, a 13-time All-Star, has always handled himself the right way and has repeatedly come through in clutch situations. It does also make sense that he is making $5 million less than he did last season based on being another year older, he will be 40 in the middle of next season, and that he is coming off of an injury filled season. He will now be able to do his normal offseason workout routine  that he was not able to do last offseason based on fracturing his ankle in the 2012 ALCS. This could help him come close to performing like he did in the 2012 regular season.

The Yankees now need to concentrate on preventing Robinson Cano from going to a different team in free agency, as well as signing the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann. It would also make sense for the Yankees to offer Curtis Granderson the 1-year, $14 million qualifying offer. He might receive more money from another team, but the Yankees should want him back for that amount of money because he is great in the clubhouse and he led all of baseball in homers between the 2011 and 2012 seasons (84 homers).

According to Andrew Marchand, their top free agent targets include, Cano, Tanaka, McCann and Carlos Beltran.

If they can sign Cano to a seven-year contract for about $180-190 million then they should obviously do that. They should not go any longer than seven years because Cano will be 38 at the end of the deal, and he would definitely lose production after that. Even though he doesn’t always hustle to first, his overall power numbers and ability to make all of the plays at second base outweighs his base-running. He is coming off a season where he batted .314, hit, hit 27 homers and drove in 107 RBIs. He has shown great durability throughout has career as he has not missed more than two games in any season since 2007.

The Rangers will apparently not bid on Cano and the Dodgers have just signed a Cuban second baseman so they will not be interested. Possible teams include the Tigers, Nationals, Cubs and Orioles. The Yankees need to make sure not to bid against themselves like they did for A-Rod.

In regards to Tanaka, the Yankees need to take the risk of signing him because they will be losing Andy Pettitte to retirement and likely Hiroki Kuroda as well. Phil Hughes will not be back based on his horrible 5.19 ERA from the 2013 season. A scout has said that Tanaka is better than Yu Darvish, who has a 3.34 ERA for the Rangers in two seasons since coming over from Japan.

The posting fee would likely be $60 million, but that would not count against the salary cap. He is coming off a season in Japan where he won 24-0 with a dominating 1.27 ERA. Tanaka, who is 25, would combine with Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia to form an imposing top three in the rotation. It is important for the Yankees to add an impact pitcher and also to add one that can make up for the Kai Igawa acquisition that did not pan out.

Even though McCann has some durability issues, as he has played 102, 121 and 128 games respectively the last three years, he would be a significant signing based on his power and passion for the game. McCann, who will be 30 on February 20, has hit at least 20 homers in every season since 2008. The Yankees could be in good shape if Austin Romine plays 30-40 games as the back-up catcher.

The Yankees also need to add another third baseman, outfielder and relief pitcher. This will be an important off-season for Brian Cashman and he needs to not strike out on signings like he did last off-season.

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