Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The 2012 season is over, but that just means it's time to start thinking about next year. A few key players face an uncertain future with the team.
Blowing up the team like many reactionary people may suggest after suffering a sweep in the ALCS wouldn't be a smart thing for the Yankees to do if they wish to be competitive again in 2013, but the team does have a few decisions to make on who will stay and who will go between now and when pitchers and catchers report.
Trading for Nick Swisher was been one of Brian Cashman's best moments as GM of the Yankees, but the right fielder faces an uncertain future as a free agent this offseason. Swisher's regular seasons have been very productive, but his postseasons have left a lot to be desired. Coming up short in October or not, the Yankees shouldn't be giving out five or six year deals to players on the wrong side of 30, and Swisher is not going to come cheap. Stranger things have happened, but it's likely that someone else takes over in right next season.
Rafael Soriano didn't save a game in the postseason. With Mariano Rivera possibly returning next year to push him back into a setup role, Soriano may very well choose to opt out and see if a team will offer him a multi-year deal as their closer. The competition at the position isn't very strong (Jose Valverde and perhaps a recovering Ryan Madson), so he'll more than likely have teams vying for his services after successfully stepping into the closer role after Rivera's injury. If he's back next year, it will be a surprise.
For a while in 2012, no one could get Russell Martin away from the Yankees fast enough. He turned down their offer of an extension last offseason and proceeded to hit below the Mendoza line for most of 2012. The problem is that no good options exist to replace him, and his poor hitting likely put him out of the running for a big payday. If he and the Yankees can work out a one-year deal to try to improve his stock and see how it goes from there for both parties, Martin will almost certainly be back behind the plate for 2013. The back injury that cost Austin Romine most of the year means that he will likely need to spend a good chunk of the year at Triple-A. Re-signing Martin for one year would give him a chance to prove he can hit like he did at the end of the year to any team that may offer him a long-term deal and gives the Yankees a chance to assess their options going forward without a commitment.
Another decision they will need consider is whether the team will pick up Curtis Granderson's option for next year. He is a back-to-back 40-home run hitter, that kind of production can't just be found under the couch cushions. He makes some really terrible reads on balls that are over his head, which may result in it being necessary to move him out of center field, but the Yankees have a pretty good backup plan, should that be necessary, in Brett Gardner. It would be very difficult to try and replace the production of Swisher and Granderson in the same offseason. The team likely picks up the option on Granderson, but signing him to an extension after next year might be a terrible mistake that they should avoid.
Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte were both signed for 2012 only, and it would be difficult to argue that either one didn't surpass any expectations that the team may have had. Pettitte looked like the Andy of old when he was on the mound and Kuroda was, for large stretches of time, the best pitcher on the staff. With the uncertainty of Michael Pineda's future, and the struggles of Ivan Nova in 2012, re-signing one or both of the veterans seems like a savvy move. Both are getting up there in age, so it's unlikely that either would want anything long term, which works out for both parties.
Then there's Alex Rodriguez. His poor performance in the playoffs was only one in a lineup full of hitters that couldn't hit to save their lives. Somehow, the majority of the blame fell on his shoulders. It's the contract, certainly, but the fact that the team really did no better without him proves he was not the one keeping them down. His replacement failed to do any better, either. The relationship between player and manager might be a little strained after that, but at least publicly, it seems as if both sides are willing to play nice. It didn't even take elimination for the trade rumors to start flying, and it didn't take much longer for all parties to shoot them down, except for those "sources" that always seem to pop up when a writer wants to run a story. It's unlikely that A-Rod isn't a Yankee next year, but the Dodgers/Red Sox trade this year taught us that anything is possible if you find a stroke of dumb luck and a team clueless enough to take on the majority of a bad contract. The Yankees shouldn't pay millions and millions for A-Rod to play elsewhere for the next five years. That plus whoever replaces him would eat up too much of their budget they seem to be set on sticking to. A-Rod probably starts at third base for the Yankees on Opening Day, but you can never say never.
Who would you be most surprised to see back in 2013?
Nick Swisher (742 votes)
Rafael Soriano (201 votes)
Russell Martin (23 votes)
Hiroki Kuroda (15 votes)
Andy Pettitte (42 votes)
Curtis Granderson (22 votes)
Alex Rodriguez (91 votes)
1136 total votes