With nearly $183 million in payroll already locked in for the 2016 season, the New York Yankees will not be one of the more aggressive teams this winter in free agency. While it’s likely the Yankees will add one or more starting pitchers to their rotation, the team is locked into a big contract with an aging superstar at nearly every position. The Yankees do not have a lot of flexibility with their lineup, unless they are willing to pay veterans like Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, or Jacoby Ellsbury big bucks to sit on the bench. Rumors are circulating around Brett Gardner, and a trade of the outfielder could free up some space.
Beyond trading Gardner, the Yankees have made All-Star closer Andrew Miller available. Miller is only one year into his four-year deal with the Yankees, but Dellin Betances is ready to close, and is much cheaper than Miller. John Ryan Murphy was already traded for Aaron Hicks, which could make it easier to trade Gardner.
The Yankees will spend right up to the luxury tax and beyond every year, but don’t look for them to break the bank for a handful of free agents this winter. As the contracts of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann begin to expire, the Yankees will be able to get back to their free-spending ways. For now, however, look for the Yankees to make one big signing before filling out their roster with value plays.
Here are five players that could represent good value for the Yankees in the free-agent pool.