The Yankees went into last winter with a publicly stated goal of keeping their payroll below $189 million. They came out of it having committed more than $400 million for four new players. This winter, there are no such payroll limitations, at least to our knowledge, but there is still plenty of need. And since there is nothing more fun than playing with another guy's cash, we at ESPN New York will once again aid the Yankees' decision-makers with a little game we like to call, "Spend Hal's Money."
Los Angeles Dodgers
Today's Candidate: Hanley Ramirez
Age: 31 in December
2014 numbers: $16 million salary, .283-13-71, .369 OBP, .817 OPS, 3.5 WAR
Pros: By the numbers, Ramirez, even by the diminished standards of his 2014 season, would have led the Yankees in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, been one tick behind Ichiro Suzuki for highest batting average and run second to Brian McCann in RBIs. This probably says more about the Yankees' offense this year than it does about Ramirez, who is no longer the player he was back in the day, when he was a 30-30 man for the Florida Marlins, and the 2009 NL batting champion. Still, even at his current level, Ramirez could give the Yankees back at least some of the production they used to get out of their infield in the days when Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano -- remember him? -- were at their peaks. And they wouldn't have to worry about a veteran like Ramirez wilting under the pressure of trying to replace Derek Jeter.
Cons: Injuries have shortened three of Ramirez's past four seasons, causing his production to plummet. Alas, his age is not plummeting, and if the Yankees balked at giving a 30-year-old Cano a 10-year deal, why would they lock themselves up with Ramirez for at least five years? They've gotten caught in that trap before and have two infielders, Tex and A-Rod, in the process of cashing in on big contracts while outliving their expiration dates as players. Do they want to do that again? Plus, as a right-handed batter in Yankee Stadium, Ramirez's power numbers, at home at least, are likely to decline even further.
The verdict: Pass. In the short term, signing Ramirez might be a move that excites the fan base, but over the long haul, there's a lot of potential here for another disastrous contract. There are younger, healthier -- and cheaper -- options out there, and while we'd love to spend Hal's money on just about anything, I would wait for a better opportunity than this.