The 2014 New York Yankees did not perform how general manager Brian Cashman pictured after he spent over $500 million resigning players and signing free agents prior to last season.
Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is signed through 2020 for a total of $133.3 million and hopes to be the club’s opening day pitcher this season. The right-handed pitcher from Japan had to say goodbye to his Rookie of the Year bid (13-5, 2.77 ERA) when he was sidelined with a ligament injury to his pitching arm, which almost required Tommy John surgery.
Veteran acquisition Carlos Beltran was limited to just 109 games after having surgery on his elbow. The 16-year outfielder could not get in a groove at the plate and batted just .233, with 15 home runs and 49 runs batted in. Beltran was acquired for $30 million over a three-year span.
Cashman went on to spend a combined $174.8 million on the acquisitions of catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. McCann hit just .232 in 2014, which is 40 points lower than his career batting average. The former Red Sox outfielder hits just .284 last year and is slated to make over $20 million a season from New York until he is 37 years old. The Ellsbury deal is the same type of signing that has the Yankees in trouble with Alex Rodriguez. The team is still scheduled to pay Rodriguez $61 million over the next three seasons.
The one man that New York did not consider overpaying last offseason was Robinson Cano. Although Cashman made several offers to resign the second basemen, Cashman would pay Cano the money he was looking for. Cano hit .314 for the Seattle Mariners last season.
This all calculated to a mediocre (84-78) record for New York, as a team said farewell to their captain and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
This offseason Cashman took a much different approach than in recent years. He filled the vacant position at shortstop by making a three-team trade for Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Didi Gregorius. The Yankees gave up a couple of prospects and right-handed pitcher Shane Greene for the 25-year-old short stop. Gregorius hit .226 in 299 at-bats for Arizona last season.
With Rodriguez’s status in question, New York re-signed Chase Headley to fill the void at third base. Headley received a generous four-year $52 million deal after hitting .243 last year with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs. The left side of the infield will have trouble producing big numbers for the Yankees in 2015.
The other position where the Yankees lacked a legitimate starter was at second base. New York made a questionable move resigning Stephen Drew, after he hit just .162 in 2014 in 85 games played with the Red Sox and Yankees.
New York made similar deals to strengthen the pitching rotation. Cashman did not make a bid for the coveted Cy Young-winning pitcher Max Scherzer. Almost identical to the Drew deal, Cashman signed journeyman Chris Capuano to a one-year contract for $5 million. The left-handed pitcher will provide a steady arm in a rotation where Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda all have lingering injuries from last season. 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda walked this offseason, as the veteran returned home to pitch in Japan.
In mid-December Cashman made a deal with the Miami Marlins that featured 24-year old starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi is a right-handed pitcher who throws hard and can also eat up innings in the Bronx. In 199.2 innings last season Eovaldi had a 4.37 ERA but looks to be slated in as the fifth starter in the New York starting rotation. In the deal where the Yankees traded Martin Prado and David Phelps, New York also acquired Garrett Jones. Jones is a left-handed bat that can be used as a designated hitter against right-handed pitchers. Jones has the ability to hit home runs and will have an advantage with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankee’s bullpen looks to be the strongest part of the team, and can in fact be one of the strongest in Major League Baseball. The departure of closer David Robertson to the Chicago White Sox was inevitable with the performance of Dellin Betances last year. The Bronx-born 26-year-old had 135 strikeouts and a 1.40 ERA in 90.0 innings pitched as the set up man last season. Cashman had to make moves to add arms to the bullpen this offseason, as Betances was in line to assume the closer role.
The general manager filled the set up man role with an established left-handed Andrew Miller. Miller signed a four-year $36 million deal in December. In 2014 Miller held righties to a .145 batting average and lefties to a .165 batting average.
Betances and Miller are listed at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 respectively and will form a deadly combination.
The Yankees traded for two more bullpen arms when New York traded top prospect Manny Banuelos to the Braves for right-hander David Carpenter and left-hander Chase Shreve. Carpenter looks to bring immediate help to the bullpen after a strong 2014 season. Carpenter held a 2.63 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 126.2 innings pitched last year.
Here is a look at the New York’s roster along with projections for the 2015 season:
OF: Brett Gardner (.279, 14 HRs, 72 RBIs)
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury (.289, 17 HRs, 83 RBIs)
OF: Carlos Beltran (.275, 24 HRs, 87 RBIs)
1B: Mark Teixeira (.245, 29 HRs, 105 RBIs)
C: Brian McCann (241, 24 HRs, 89 RBIs)
3B: Chase Headley (.269, 19 home runs, 79 RBIs)
DH: Alex Rodriguez (.275 16 HRs, 65 RBIs) / Garrett Jones (.268, 13 HRs, 52 RBIs)
2B: Stephen Drew (.251, 16 HRs, 68 RBIs)
SS: Didi Gregorius (.242, 9 HRs, 51 RBIS)
SP: Masahiro Tanaka (19-7, 2.04 ERA)
SP: C.C. Sabathia (14-13, 3.75 ERA)
SP: Michael Pineda (14-11, 3.35 ERA)
SP: Chris Capuano (10-12, 3.95 ERA)
SP: Nathan Eovaldi (9-11, 3.87 ERA)
CP: Dellin Betances (41 saves, 1.91 ERA)
RP: Andrew Miller
RP: David Carpenter
RP: Adam Warren
RP: Esmil Rogers
RP: Justin Wilson