The New York Yankees have acquired 37-yeard-old veteran Alfonso Soriano along with his $18 million contract through next season and it makes me wonder what GM Brian Cashman’s plans are for the future. Soriano leads MLB with 8 homeruns in July (the Yankees have 7), but he is not getting any younger. The suspension of Alex Rodriguez is imminent and the Bronx Bombers are in danger of missing the playoffs. Only twice in the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera era have the Yanks failed to reach 90 wins: 2000 and 2008. Only once in the same era has the squad failed to make the playoffs: 2008. Their last championship? 2009.
The Yankees are always in the mix for a World Series run but the current roster is a complete mess due to several injuries. Can anyone outside of New York name the top three prospects in the Yankee farm system? Let’s look at the current roster. The top six highest paid players are at least 32 years of age or older:
Alex Rodriguez (27.5 million through 2017)
C.C. Sabathia (23.3 million through 2015)
Mark Teixeira (22.5 million through 2016)
Alfonso Soriano (18.0 million through 2018)
Vernon Wells (18.0 million through 2014)
Derek Jeter (17.0 million through 2014)
Vernon Wells is hitting .230 with 10 home runs and will be gone after next season. The most likely replacement (without having to spend millions in free agency) comes from within: Zoilo Almonte. The 24-year old Dominican prospect has been in the system since age 16, hit 23 homers in AA last season and was hitting .297 for AAA Scranton before being called up. After 26 games in the big leagues, Almonte has a respectable .261 average but only notched 1 homer and 9 RBI.
Who is the outfielder of the future? Can Almonte fill that void? After the departure of Wells in 2014 the Yankees will have to look to free agency for a replacement. Washington’s Denard Span may be their best option to hold down the leadoff spot for a few years. Span is a .281 career hitter and would be the everyday starting center fielder. If the Yanks are looking for immediate help this off-season then their best option is Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury (if you can lure him in) or Cleveland’s Shin Soo-Choo, but don’t expect Granderson-like numbers from either. Curtis Granderson is a true impact player after back-to-back 40 home runs seasons, but can he return to all-star form? The Yankees will need to lock him up with a new contract ASAP.
Another key void that the Yankees need to fill is at catcher. Chris Stewart and Francesco Cervelli are not long-term solutions. The ultimate catch would be to trade for Minnesota’s Joe Mauer but I doubt the Twins will let their hometown hero go. The Yankees will most likely go after Atlanta’s Brian McCann or Boston’s Mike Napoli in free agency.
Who will rise out of this mess as the true leader of the Yankees? C.C. Sabathia is clearly the leader of the pitching staff, but who will emerge as the next great Yankee bat? The end is near for Jeter, A-Rod and Teixera and it’s possible that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson could split after this season. What will be the new identity of the New York Yankees?