Swept Yankees face big decisions with Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki

October 19, 2012

It’s going to be a long, tumultuous season for the Bronx Bombers. (Paul Sancya / AP)

The Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees out of the playoffs swiftly and without remorse. Their 8-1 triumph over C.C. Sabbathia and a hapless lineup sent the Tigers back to the World Series for the first time 2006 and left the Yankees pondering a very cloudy future.

New York’s biggest stars wilted under the bright lights of the postseason and now the team faces a litany of questions regarding its highly-paid, under-producing roster. No player in the team’s regular-season lineup is younger than 29, and the vast majority of their players are on the downside of their careers. That could lead to a massive offseason overhaul in the Bronx.

1) Alex Rodriguez

Playoff numbers: 3-for-25 (.120), 0 home runs, 0 RBIs, 2 walks

Remaining contract: 5 years, $114,000,000

A hand injury forced A-Rod to miss at least 20 games for the fourth straight season, but that alone did not account for his dismal 18-home run, 57-RBI campaign. Rodriguez struck out 116 times and his .783 OPS was the lowest of his career. The consensus from the New York fans and media is that the Yankees should unload him, no matter how much of his massive salary they’re forced to eat. For his part, Rodriguez says he plans to stay put. “I’ve never thought about going to another team,” he said after Thursday’s season-ending loss (via ESPN New York). “My focus is to stay here. Let’s make that very, very clear. I will be back and I have a lot to prove and I will come back on a mission.” The biggest question may be: At this point, does anyone want this guy?


Curtis Granderson experienced a postseason power outage. (Paul Sancya / AP)

2) Curtis Granderson

Playoff numbers: 3-for-30 (.100), 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 2 stolen bases

Remaining contract: 1-year team option, $13 million; $2 million buyout

Like Rodriguez, Granderson did not start Game 4, then came on as a pinch hitter and promptly struck out. The speedy center fielder hit a career-high 43 home runs with the help of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and eclipsed 100 RBIs for the second straight season. But while he led the team in power numbers, his .232 batting average left much to be desired. He went 0-for-11 against his former team in the ALCS. With the Yankees aiming to reduce their payroll in 2013, they could turn down their option on Granderson.

3) Ichiro Suzuki

Playoff numbers: 11-for-40 (.275), 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 1 stolen base

Remaining contract: Free agent

The late-season trade to New York brought back a bit of the old Ichiro, who hit .322 with five home runs, 27 RBIs and 14 steals in only 67 games with the Yankees. Playing postseason baseball for the first time since 2001, he hit .353 in the ALCS and was one of the few bright spots in a lineup that appeared to forget how to get on base. Ichiro said he intends to play in 2013, and the Yankees could probably re-sign him back at a discounted rate.


Will Rafael Soriano permanently supplant Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer? (Abelimages / Getty Images)

4) Rafael Soriano

Playoff numbers: 3 appearances, 4.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 hits allowed, 2 strikeouts, 0 walks

Remaining contract: 1 year, $14,000,000; can opt out to become a free agent

The veteran reliever was nearly Mo-like as a fill-in for the injured Mariano Rivera. He piled up 42 saves and finished the regular season with a 2.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Rivera is determined to return for one final season in pinstripes and appears on track to be fully recovered from his torn ACL in time for spring training. But Rivera is also 42, and Soriano’s versatility as a setup man or closer will make him a hot commodity on the free agent market if he elects to opt out of his deal.

5) Hiroki Kuroda

Playoff numbers: 2 games started, 0-1, 2.81 ERA, 14 strikeouts, 1 walk

Remaining contract: Free agent

The former Dodger was a consistent presence in New York’s starting rotation, picking up 16 wins with a 3.32 ERA at a cost of $10 million. At 37, he should be a top target for teams looking to bolster their rotation this winter — and the Yankees could be among his biggest suitors.

Other key players set to become free agents: Nick Swisher, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Raul Ibanez

*The Yankees have a $15 million team option on All-Star 2B Robinson Cano and are expected to use it to keep the league’s top offensive player at the position.

Which players should the Yankees re-sign? Which players should they jettison? Will they simply re-load or is this the beginning of a massive roster overhaul?

(All salary figures from Baseball Reference)

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