The official start of the Hot Stove season isn’t until after the World Series, but friends, it is never too early to start thinking about it. Steve hit on the top ten things the Yankees must do in the offseason earlier, so I won’t rehash something like that. Instead, I’m going to offer up a few brief questions, give a few brief answers, and leave them for you all to talk amongst yourselves.
1. Brandon Laird is coming off of a career year and has a 1.002 OPS in the Arizona Fall League thus far. The way I see it, there isn’t much room for Laird on the big club in the near future. His trade value is never going to be higher than it is now, unless he hits well at AAA Scranton to start the 2011 season. I don’t know if that’s worth risking. The Yankees should look to shop Laird now, likely as part of a package, because I think he’ll add more value to the team going forward as a trade piece than he will with his own play.
2. What’s going to happen with the OF bench situation in 2011? I’m assuming the Yankees will employ the same outfield they did for most of 2010–Gardner, Granderson, Swisher from LF-RF. It’s the extra outfielders who may look different. Austin Kearns will most certainly be gone. Marcus Thames may be back, but I honestly hope not. It’s nothing personal, Marcus…only business. He did great job in 2010 but the chances of 2010 being repeated are really, really, REALLY small. If the Yankees are smart–and they usually are–they’ll let Thames walk. The only problem is that there aren’t many good free agent options and the in house options–Colin Curtis and possibly Brandon Laird–are uninspiring. New York may have a lot of 40 man spots open, though, so they could snatch someone up from the Rule V draft like they did last year with Chad Huffman (even though that didn’t go well).
3. Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, and Javier Vazquez are all type B free agents so there is absolutely no point in offering any of them arbitration. Granted, the chances of that wouldn’t be high even if all three were type A free agents. Lance Berkman will most certainly be gone, as will Javier Vazquez. Kerry Wood may be back, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
I’m very torn on Kerry Wood. He pitched well for the Yankees, obviously, but he’s always at risk for injury and chances are someone is going to offer him closer money. If I were going to offer Wood a contract, though, it would probably be pretty modest. His $11MM option was just denied and at most, I think I’d offer Wood a one year deal worth $5-6 million. Not long ago, I was okay with splitting the option over two years, but a two year deal for Kerry Wood isn’t a great idea. Would it be nice to have Wood as the set up guy in 2011? Yeah, sure. But is it necessary? No, I don’t think so.