Chess pieces moving around the board

Time to recycle your #24 and #14 shirts. Robinson Cano is on his way to Seattle, and Curtis Granderson is headed to another borough.

That’s right. While Granderson was almost assumed to be off to another team, Cano’s departure is a little off-putting for most Yankee fans who rightly assumed this home-grown player would be part of the next generation of Yankee legends. The Yankees extended offers to Cano, but nothing at the level he was looking for and ended up getting at Seattle. Cano’s people were asking for a 10-year deal of some sort, but most of the major teams weren’t interested in offering a 32-year-old player 10 guaranteed years of play time as part of their club. Somehow, Seattle deemed this a good idea for the future of their club and have thus offered Cano $240 million for 10 years.

Granderson’s deal with the Mets have him for 4 years, $60 million, which is great for New Yorker fans of Granderson, who can just catch the 7 train out to Queens to watch him play next year. A 4-year deal makes sense for a player who will be 33 in March. At the end of those 4 years, Granderson could have his pick of teams to play for as DH or part-time outfielder to finish out his career.

Best of luck to both of them on their new endeavors!

Without a hefty contract to pay out to Cano, this leaves the Yankees with some flexibility as far as who else they can pick up, something that undoubtedly needs to be placed on that pitching staff. There are, of course, other needs to fill, but there’s still some time and there’s still a ton of free agents up for grabs.

In that vein, the Yankees signed a deal with infielder Kelly Johnson, who is primarily a 2nd baseman, for a year. This is a great pick-up for the Yankees as far as a utility man, especially in lieu of some recent “releases” of sorts in that area.

But the really big sign (or rather re-sign) is Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda was signed to a 1-year $16 million deal plus bonuses and an interpreter. Personally, I remember Kuroda in Spring Training as one of the few veteran players who played every inning, every pitch as if it were October baseball. It was very impressive to watch then, and it was equally impressive to watch that determination pour over into the regular season. Kuroda certainly embodies the Yankee spirit — that excellence, that integrity, that team work, and that famous drive to win.

And while all the chess pieces are just beginning to be moved around the board, the pieces are falling into place. It will be interesting to see where the roster is once February 24 (and even more so when April 1) rolls around. Even last year, where it seemed like so many of the pieces were already in place, with all the recurring injuries, the pieces certainly didn’t fall right until closer to August.

See that’s the tough part about the off-season and contracts; it’s always a gamble. Even if it seems like a good bet, it’s still a gamble. Even if you sign the absolute best free agents to carry your team off to the World Series, you’re never guaranteed a team. And a team isn’t something you can buy, mistakes that teams (even past Yankee teams) have made. But it takes veteran players and a great manager to pull together a team, something I think the Yankees have in spades.

Go Yankees!

{NOTE: Almost immediately after I first posted this, Twitter blew up with the announcement that the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran to a 3-year deal. Stay tuned Monday for more Beltran news.}

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