With the 2013 baseball season officially over and the Boston Red Sox crowned the World Series Champions this season, the New York Yankees can finally start to really prepare for their off-season game plan on how to improve their roster and not only get back to October baseball, but compete with Boston, along with the Tampa Bay Rays who were in the playoffs as well.
As it has been reported before, the Yankees are interested in players like Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals, Shin-Soo Choo of the Cincinnati Reds, Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves, as well as Masahiro Tanaka from the Japanese baseball league. The Yankees are now adding three more new names to those who interest them in the winter.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and WFAN has reported that the Yankees are interested in Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and shortstop Stephen Drew as well as Texas Rangers starting pitcher Matt Garza.
Ellsbury is the biggest name from this list, as he is viewed as the second best free agent on the market behind Yankees second basemen Robinson Cano, who the team is also trying to re-sign and bring back for 2014 and beyond. The 30-year-old center fielder just came off a season where he hit .298 with nine home runs and 53 RBI with 52 stolen bases in 134 games for Boston this season.
Ellsbury is two season removed from perhaps one of the best seasons he's put up professionally, where he hit .321 with 32 home runs and 105 with 39 stolen bases in 158 games for Boston in the 2011 season; a year where he finished second in the 2011 American League MVP Voting. With the interest in Ellsbury, it's not clear if the Yankees are viewing him as a center fielder or moving him over to right field just in case they don't re-sign Curtis Granderson, who has expressed interest in coming back to the team in 2014.
Drew has been a name talked about for the Yankees, especially with the injuries Derek Jeter has experienced in 2013, although the captain re-signed with the Yankees on Friday to a one-year, $12 million deal on Friday, but the if the Yankees really wanted Drew, they could have an opening at third base if the suspension of Alex Rodriguez is held up and he misses the 2014 season, although that scenario is highly unlikely.
The other big name from the list is Garza, who has been linked several times in the past to the Yankees, but the team has never been able to make a serious attempt for him, but will get their chance to in free agency. The 29-year-old starter was dealt at the trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers and posted a 10-6 record with a 3.82 ERA in 24 starts.
With Andy Pettitte's retirement and both Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes' free agency looming, it would make sense for the Yankees to have interest with Garza to go along with Tanaka for their starting rotation that has a lot of glaring holes in it. Along with the Rangers, Garza has experience pitching in the American League East before when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and helped pitch them to the 2008 World Series and won Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS against the Red Sox.
Free agency will kick off starting next week, but with the big names that the Yankees are interested in, it's quite clear that the Yankees are serious about improving the team and getting back to the postseason in 2014.
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