Could the 2013 Yankees look drastically different?

With many contracts up, this could be a winter full of tough decisions
10/19/2012 2:24 PM ET
By Staff

A revitalized Ichiro hit .322 for the Yankees in 2012. Will he be back in 2013?(AP)
It was a season of ups and downs for the Yankees, but with that season over after Thursday's loss, the focus turns to the future. Most specifically, speculation now starts on who is part of the future, because the fact is that based on the team’s contractual situation, the New York Yankees of 2013 could look drastically different than the AL East Champions of 2012.

Of the 27 men who played postseason baseball for the Yankees, more than one-third are set to become free agents or have option clauses that don’t, at this time, guarantee 100 percent that they will be Yankees in 2013. Add in a handful of key contributors who didn’t see October (like Mariano Rivera and Andruw Jones, for example), and there could be a lot of holes for the Yankees to fill this winter.

The decisions on who stays and who goes ultimately lie with Brian Cashman and Yankees brass, but we want to know your thoughts. Below, we’ve spotlighted the majority of those potential departees (not including arbitration-eligible or team-control players), and we ask you to vote in each poll to voice your opinion on who you’d optimally like to chant for during roll call once again come April 1.

After being acquired on July 23, Ichiro hit .322 with five homers, 27 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 67 games with the Yankees this season, then hit .275 in the postseason. Overall, he posted a .283-9-55-29 line with Seattle and New York, and while he will turn 39 on Monday (Oct. 22), it appeared to many that the Ichiro who had slumped through the previous season-and-a-half may have been revitalized by coming to play in New York for a contender.

Acquired four years ago as somewhat of a “utility” player, Nick Swisher took over as the starting right fielder early in 2009, quickly became a fan favorite, and never looked back. This year, Swisher, who turns 32 in November, hit .272-24-93 in 147 games, and he has averaged .268-26-86 in his four years in the Bronx; however, he has also been maligned for his lack of postseason production, as he hit just .167 this October and has a career postseason average of .169.

The Yankees hold a $14 million team option on Granderson, who turns 32 in March, with a $2 million buyout. This year, the “Grandy Man” hit a career-low .232, but also set a career-high with 43 homers and drove in 106 runs. He has a .247-108-292 line with 49 steals in his three years in the Bronx, is a two-time All-Star as a Yankee, and may win his second straight Silver Slugger award as well.

Like Granderson, Cano, who turns 30 on Monday, has a $15 million team option with a $2 million buyout. Cano, who has been a Yankee his entire pro career, hit .313-34-94 this season – finishing second on the team in all three Triple Crown categories – and has a .308 career average in his eight seasons in pinstripes.

Martin, who will be 30 in February, is a true free agent who just completed his second year with the Yankees. He hit a career low .211 this season, but did blast a career-high 21 homers, has drawn rave reviews for his work with the Yankees staff, and came alive when the Yankees needed him most, hitting .257 with seven homers and 17 of his 53 RBI in the season’s final five weeks.

Kuroda, who will be 38 in February, was signed to a one-year deal in January, and led the team in starts, innings pitched, and wins and was second among the Yankees’ seven starters in ERA. And, after a 16-11, 3.32 season, he made two strong starts in the postseason, winning neither but pitching to a 2.81 ERA and reaching at least the eighth inning in both.

Perhaps 2012 didn’t go as Andy Pettitte planned after he announced his comeback in March, but the lefty went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts and then made two quality starts in the postseason. Even if the Yankees want him back, Pettitte, who will be 41 next June, has to decide if the feeling is mutual, but he has given indications that it may be.

Statistically, Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time, but he’s also a free agent and a month away from turning 43. Many feel that Rivera will be a Yankee until he hangs up his cleats, so the question seems to be whether or not he wants his career to end on the warning track in Kansas City or the mound at Yankee Stadium – and what the Yankees might be willing to give him to make it the latter.

Soriano stepped into Rivera’s shoes when “The Sandman” went down in May and thrived, going 42 of 47 in save opportunities and posting a 2.27 ERA. Soriano has one year and $14 million left on the three-year deal he signed prior to 2010, but he also has the right to opt out, take a $1.5 million “buyout,” and explore free agency this winter.

The Yankees have four veteran pitchers who were key contributors in 2012 but are either set to be free agents or have options not to return. Freddy Garcia (7-6, 5.20 in 30 games/17 starts) and Derek Lowe (1-1, 3.04 in 17 games with NYY, 9-11, 5.11 overall) are the former, while the latter are a pair of relievers recovering from injury: David Aardsma, who made one late-season appearance after missing most of the year after Tommy John surgery and has a 2013 team option based on performance, and Pedro Feliciano – who has a $4.5m club option but has not thrown a Major League pitch in two years.

Likewise, the Yankees have a key quartet of veteran position players who were all on one-year deals in 2012. They are: Raul Ibanez (.240-19-62 in 130 games plus three huge post-season HR), Eric Chavez (.281-16-37 in 113 games, but 0-for-16 in the postseason), Jayson Nix (.243-4-18 in 74 games, 2-for-8 in the postseason), and Andruw Jones (.197-14-34 in 94 games, not on either postseason roster). comments