Since the GM meetings just wrapped up in Orlando, FL, it makes sense that a lot of news has come about concerning who the Yankees are close to signing, will likely sign, or are rumored to sign.
Brandan Ryan, who played in 17 games for the Yankees in September after being acquired from the Mariners on September 10 as a result of injuries, said that he liked his time with the Yankees and is interested in returning. He was not eligible to play in the postseason since he came to the team after August 31. Ryan, who will be entering his eighth season after playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and Marines, is an excellent defensive shortstop but a weak hitter. According to Joel Sherman, Ryan is “close” to re-signing for a low contract with the Yankees and would not prevent them from signing a better player like Stephen Drew or Johnny Peralta.
Bringing back Ryan would make sense if the are able to sign Peralta as well. Since the Yankees need to prepare for Alex Rodriguez being suspended for the whole season, even though the ruling might not come until the end of December, the Yankees can’t have the situation repeat itself where they virtually got zero production from third base before Rodriguez returned from his injury. Ryan would make sense to have as a defensive back-up to Derek Jeter at shortstop, and Peralta, who can play shortstop and third base, is a reliable fielder and is coming off an All-Star campaign.
Peralta received a 50-game Biogenesis suspension, which started on August 5, but he has served his time and is now a desired free agent. The Mets are interested in him as well, after having a secret meeting with him on November 13, which makes it necessary for the Yankees to act swiftly so they are not beaten to him by their cross city rivals. After only playing in 107 games in 2013, Peralta had a .303 average, 11 homers, 53 RBI and 50 runs scored. His career high in homers is 24 and his career high in RBI is 89. His price tag will likely be driven down since he is coming off of a suspension.
The Yankees are also interested in Kendrys Morales, who has had a number of solid seasons for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Mariners. As of November 13, he is the most recent free agent to join their list of targets which includes Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, among others. Morales hit 23 homers and 80 RBI in the pitcher friendly Safeco Field last season, but he might be most remembered for hitting a game winning grand slam on May 29, 2010 and following that by stomping on home plate during the celebration which caused him to fracture his lower left leg. This foolish injury would end his season and would cause him to miss the 2011 season as well because of complications from the injury.
Morales, if signed, would be a DH and back-up to Mark Teixeira at first base. However, a more important signing is that of Brian McCann. After not brining back Russell Martin after the 2012 season (Martin helped the Pirates reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992) the combination of Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Chris Stewart left a lot to be desired offensively from the catcher position. Stewart, who had been a back-up catcher in previous seasons, played in 109 games and had a .211 average with only four homers. The lackluster season was not really his fault because he was in a position that he was not suited for.
If the Yankees sign McCann they will be solid defensively behind the plate and would drastically improve offensively. He has hit 20 or more homers in every season since 2008 and has very respectable .277 average for his nine-year career. McCann, who is very intense, has not been the most durable recently since he only played 102 games last season and has not played in more than 128 games since 2010.However, besides the last two seasons, he has always played more than 120 games, which is solid for a catcher.
Romine, who played as the season progressed last season, would fill in well as a back-up to McCann. Jorge Posada, who was a great Yankee catcher who helped them win four World Series titles, said that: “Being here in the American League will help, having him DH and keeping him off his legs a little bit. I think that would be a great signing.”
The other player that the Yankees are going to heavily pursue in the coming days in Carlos Beltran. He would be able to be the third piece to an outfield that would also include Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano. That would make sense because if another outfielder was not signed they would be left with Vernon Wells or Ichiro Suzuki for the third spot, and they are both over the hill. According the Daily News, Beltran has at least six teams interested in him. Beltran is the top outfield free agent after finishing with 24 homers and 82 RBI and in 2012 at age 35 he slugged 32 homers.
Some negative news was revealed today as Masahiro Tanaka of Japan, who some scouts have said is better than Yu Darvish, will apparently not wind up in the MLB this season because talks between the MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have hit a standstill regarding the new posting system. This hurts the Yankees since they need another solid pitcher since they currently have CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and unknowns after that. They need to hope that Hiroki Kuroda decides to come back to the team and not return to Japan and that Michael Pineda is healthy and pitches like he did for the Mariners as a rookie.