Yoenis Cespedes remains on the free agent market. Most of the big names have been signed and now just a handful of players remain hoping to get the contract they believe they deserve. The outfielder's market is high-priced right now. Contracts of six years have been tossed to Jason Heyward and Justin Upton and now Cespedes wants his. With few teams preparing long-term offers for the outfielder, are the Yankees preparing to be a secret contender?
So far this offseason, the Yankees have steered clear of the big contracts. They did not give into the temptation of acquiring David Price or Daniel Murphy. They made a trade for Starlin Castro and a trade for Aroldis Chapman as their marquee moves. However, could all of that change if Cespedes remains available in the coming days?
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner raised some eyebrows at the owner's meeting in Florida. When asked if Cespedes was still an option for the team, the owner said via the New York Daily News. "I'm comfortable where payroll is right now. But we're always looking to improve the club. You never know with us. We've surprised people in the past."
The interest in Cespedes is not a surprise. The Yankees have been looking at the future of their outfield. Both Brett Gardner and Jacob Ellsbury have seen their names in trades all offseason. Carlos Beltran had a big 2015 season, but what are the chances he can repeat the success? There has not been a ton of interest in Gardner or Ellsbury thanks to their contracts, but there is no question that Cespedes would be an upgrade.
The issue is a contract to Cespedes does not meet the intentions of the Yankees this offseason. General manager Brian Cashman has stated a few times that he is waiting for big contracts to come off the payroll before adding more. Mark Teixeira and Beltran both have deals that expire at the end of the year. CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez both have the options of coming off the payroll as well. Adding Cespedes now would push the Yankees payroll to more than they intended, but it could help the team win. Cashman must decide what is the most important. If the Yankees do no want to shell out the money for Cespedes, but feel their outfield is a weakness, names like Dexter Fowler and Denard Span remain available.
The Yankees continue to get linked to trade deals, but the chances any big moves happen are slim. Andrew Miller was the biggest name being thrown around, but New York must hold on to him. According to ESPN.com, Chapman may not be suspended for a portion of the year following the dropping of domestic violence charges. While the Yankees intend for him to be their starting closer, Miller will get the nod if he is not available to start the year. The Yankees would like to retain the depth in the bullpen, but if a deal comes up they might not be able to turn it down.