The biggest event of the MLB offseason gets started today in San Diego- the Winter Meetings. The rumor mill will be running at warp speed for the next 4 days, with teams and players jockeying for prime position to work out the biggest and best deals possible and more than a few big names in play. The Yankees kick started their offseason plan into gear on Friday after a slow and deliberate start, and they are expected to be among the most active teams during the meetings. Adding Didi Gregorius and Andrew Miller filled a few big holes, but there are some that still need to be filled and the next 4 days will offer Cash and Co. a variety of possibilities to address them. Starting pitching is an absolute must. Giving up Shane Greene in the Gregorius deal has left the Yanks with a current projected starting rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, David Phelps, and Adam Warren. Neither Phelps nor Warren have worked as regular starters for years, and their upside in the rotation might not be as high as Greene's was. Brandon McCarthy has been one of the main Yankee targets since the offseason started. He pitched very well in New York, openly said he wanted to come back, and could be had for a very reasonable 3-year price. Cheaper options include guys like Justin Masterson and Brett Anderson, and it's highly likely we hear about the Yanks being "connected" to guys like Lester and Scherzer even if they aren't because that's what keeps their prices high.
More relief help is also a must, albeit a much smaller one than adding
a starter starters. Miller along with Dellin Betances gives the Yankees a very good pair of late-inning arms, but it seems as though they would prefer to use them as a tag team, multi-inning bridge to the 9th inning and plug in a more traditional 1-inning closer. That closer could be David Robertson, who is drawing interest from other teams, or it could be somebody like Jason Grilli. My fearless prediction was blown up when the clock struck 12 on Sunday morning, but it still feels like the Yankees are biding their time and working on something Papelbon-esque for Robertson behind the scenes.
The last big need is more infield help, preferably a starting third baseman. Cash continues to talk about Martin Prado as his only third base option. Whether this is him attempting to downplay expectations for A-Rod or not, everybody knows that A-Rod is a huge injury risk and that risk only grows when he's playing the field. Adding another competent body to play third would free up Prado to be more of a floater, which seems like the best way to use him. Chase Headley is probably too rich for the Yanks' blood at this point and the rest of the third base FA market is pretty terrible. Perhaps they take a chance on a low-risk non-tender player like Juan Francisco, or perhaps they look for more help on the trade market.
Whatever route they choose, expect the Yankees to make at least 1 significant move this week. With some of the positional groups getting thin, they can't afford to slow play now and further limit their options. I'm going to stick by my belief that D-Rob is coming and say they get that deal done and announced this week. I also think there will be some progress towards a new deal between them and McCarthy and we'll see that announced sometime early next week. Cash said he was "just trying to reinforce and diversify" on his conference call last Friday. The Winter Meetings should offer him a lot of opportunities to do just that.