So the Yankees wrapped up their organizational meetings yesterday and they have their offseason plan in place. According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, the plan appears to be get everyone:
The Yankees' top executives have decided to pursue many of the game's premier free agents, chief among them starting pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, and first baseman Mark Teixeira, among others, this winter. They will also will pursue Jake Peavy, the Padres' Cy Young-winning starting pitcher who may be available via trade, and may take a look at top free-agent outfielder Manny Ramirez . . . The Yankees will also consider bringing back starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, who has told them he'd like to return. . . . The Yankees may also consider Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets as yet another free-agent alternative, but there are some concerns about his injury history. If Mike Mussina decides he want to keep pitching, the Yankees would be interested in him, as well.
All this really tells us is that they Yankees aren't ruling anyone out and do plan to be big spenders this winter. So that's good, but before you get yourselves in a tizzy trying to figure out who the Yankees can trade for 2007 NL Cy Young award winner Peavy, bear this in mind from Pete Abe:
Barry Axelrod, Peavy's agent, made it clear this afternoon that his client wants to stay in the National League. "It's where he's comfortable," Axelrod said. "He knows the hitters and he enjoys that aspect of the game himself."
In other news, Chien-Ming Wang is throwing off a mound, the Yankees have stated their intent to return Joba Chamberlain to the rotation for 2009, and Phil Hughes is tearing up the hitters' paradise that is the Arizona Fall League with the new cutter he showed in his late-season return. That's all very encouraging and means the Yankees are really only likely to sign two, three tops of the six non-Peavy pitchers listed above, which includes Pettitte and Mussina.
If it were up to me, I'd stay away from Burnett and Sheets due to their Pavano-esque injury histories. Sheets averaged 134 2/3 innings from 2005 to 2007 and was unable to help the Brewers in the playoffs due to reoccurring elbow pain. Burnett had made 30 starts just once his his nine major league seasons prior to his walk year this year. Instead, I'd go after Sabathia (of course), Lowe, and Moose, with Pettitte as a backup option.
Lowe will be 36 in June, so he shouldn't be offered much more than a two-year deal. If he wants more, the Yanks can let him go and sign Pettitte, who has said he won't sign elsewhere and should take another one-year deal. Pettitte was awful down the stretch, but blamed his poor performance on a loss of stamina due to his failure to stick to his usual winter workout regimen as he wanted to stay out of sight during the fallout from the Mitchell Report. Mussina might want another two-year deal if he decides to return, as a return may mean a commitment to go for 300 wins (he's at 270), but he earned it by reestablishing himself as the staff ace this season. Given the fact that Wang, Chamberlain, and Hughes are in their team-control years, as is everyone in the bullpen except for Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte (if the Yankees decide to pick up his $6 million option), a pair of two-year deals for Moose and Lowe would be extremely affordable and leave plenty of payroll room for the Yankees to throw Johan Santana money at Sabathia. Of course, CC, a career .261 hitter who connected for two home runs this year, may also prefer to stay in the NL where he can hit, but if that's the case, the Yanks can up their offers to Lowe and especially Mark Teixeira, the latter of whom is the free agent I most hope the Yankees will sign this winter.