New York Yankees' offseason: Productive so far, but work remains

Mariano Rivera and Russell Martin - Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

With deals nearly done with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera the Yankees have accomplished many of their offseason objectives. Much remains to be done, however.

The New York Yankees had several major things to accomplish this offseason. From the sounds of recent reports, most of those could be accomplished before the baseball Winter Meetings begin next week.

- Re-sign Hiroki Kuroda? Check.

- Convince Andy Pettitte to pitch one more year? Check. A deal with Pettitte reportedly could be announced any time now. [UPDATE: The Yankees have officially announced that Pettitte has signed for one more year.]

- Get Mariano Rivera signed for a final season? Check. That also reportedly could happen before the end of the week.

- Settle right field? Not quite done, but there is at least one report that the Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki have agreed to a one-year deal.

- Get players on contracts that will give the Yankees a chance to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014? Check. All the deals the Yankees have done so far are of the one-year variety.

So, what do you think of the Yankees' offseason thus far? Jack Curry of YES Network thinks the Yankees are making all the right moves:

When teams re-sign their own players in the offseason, those moves don’t always resonate with some observers. There are fans who clamor for something different and new, even if something different and new isn’t the smartest decision. There’s a tendency to think different must be better.

By signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $15 million contract, and closing in on one-year deals with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees will have three crucial pitchers returning for 2013. While bringing back three aging pitchers might not seem sexy, these were the right moves for the Yankees.

Indeed they were. Let's consider what else the Yankees need to do before the start of next season.

Catcher

It has been assumed that the Yankees want to bring Russell Martin back, Martin has said the Yankees are his first choice and there were recent reports that the sides were talking about a new contract. Martin has several other suitors, however, and reportedly wants a four-year deal. Now there are reports that at least one team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are willing to give Martin a three-year deal.

Martin will be 30 next season and his offensive production has declined for four consecutive years. He had a .211/.311/.403 line last season with 21 homers and 53 RBI. Looking at those numbers and considering the Yankees' reluctance thus far to get into bidding wars for players seeking multi-year deals it seems inconceivable that the Yankees would go beyond a two-year offer to Martin.

How this will play out is still anyone's guess. It seems, however, like it could well end up with someone else catching for the Yankees next season.

Any more big fish?

Probably not. You may or may not consider him a big fish, but the Yankees have been reported to be among the teams interested in outfielder Shane Victorino, a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.

There are several roadblocks to this, however.

First, if the Yankees are bringing back Ichiro there is no spot for Victorino unless the team is planning to dangle Curtis Granderson as trade bait -- and there has been no indication they are willing to do that.

Second, the same concern as with Martin. The Yankees are apparently serious about getting under that luxury tax threshold and with so many teams interested it seems highly unlikely the Yankees would entertain getting into a bidding war.

Third, is Victorino an upgrade over what the Yankees have if you include Ichiro? He is 32 and had the worst season of his career in 2012, .255/.321/.383. Yes, he stole 39 bases but is he really worth a long-term deal?

The bench

Let's face it, the Yankees are old. And we saw in 2012 what happens with old teams -- guys need days off, they get hurt and you have to have a quality bench.

Right now, the Yankees have Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez as reserve infielders and there have been reports that they are interested in veteran utility man Jeff Keppinger. With Alex Rodriguez aging and injury-prone and Derek Jeter uncertain for the start of the season I can't imagine anyone -- including GM Brian Cashman -- being comfortable with Nunez. If Eric Chavez does not return the Yankees also need somebody who can play first base to back up Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees have yet to re-sign post-season hero Raul Ibanez -- another move they should make with a player who would likely take a one-year deal. At 40, he fits the geriatric roster. There have been rumors the Yankees are interested in former Met Scott Hairston, a right-handed hitter who could replace Andruw Jones and give balance with the all-lefty outfield of Gardner-Granderson-Suzuki. Whether it is Hairston or someone else, a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder would seem a necessity.

Conclusion

The Yankees have done a lot of good things thus far, but there are still important things to accomplish. With the re-signings of their own players it is likely that most of the major work will be done for the Yankees. Cashman might have a surprise move somewhere along the line, but right now it's hard to see what that might be.

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