When the Chicago Cubs fired manager Dale Sveum earlier this week, rumors immediately began to swirl that Joe Girardi should be hired to replace him. It makes sense: his contract with the Yankees runs out on October 31st. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with Girardi's agent today. No doubt the Yankees would like to retain Girardi. He's a big reason why the Yankees were still in the wild card race until the last week of the season. But no matter how good the offer sounds Girardi's best bet would be to say no to a contract extension even if he doesn't take the Cubs' job. 2014 promises to be a tough season for the Yankees. Here are several reasons why:
1. The Yankees are looking to cut costs in 2014. After having the second highest payroll in 2013 at just over $228 million they have made a committment to be under the luxury tax threshold of $189 million in 2014. This is the reason why they will have an uphill battle trying to replace some key personnel (see below).
2. They may not be able to re-sign Robinson Cano. His demand for a 10-year, $305 million contract is not likely to be met. He's making $15 million this year and will likely get a raise with his next contract. But the Yankees aren't going to be a spending mood. If they can't re-sign him then they will have a big hole at second base to fill. But there are other personnel issues as well.
3. Derek Jeter may not be back in 2014. He was shut down for the year on September 11th after struggling with his rehab all season long. His age is also a factor - he'll be 40 next summer. It's not a certainty that he will be able to come back at all and even if he does he's not going to be up to full strength.
4. Then there's the issue of Alex Rodriguez. His appeal hearing got underway yesterday and it's not clear what the outcome will ultimately be. He's going to almost certainly be suspended. The question will only be how many games he will have to serve. Like Jeter, age is not on Rodriguez's side, either. He'll be 39 next summer. He's also battling hip issues too. Although he was somewhat effective when he came back earlier this year it's clear he's lost a step.
5. Mark Texiera has been out the entire year. If he manages to come back will he live up to the lofty expectations in his contract? He admitted in an interview before the season that he was overpaid.
6. The Yankees need pitching. With Andy Petite and Mariano Rivera's retirements this year, those are two huge holes in the pitching staff to be filled. Rivera's slot will be more difficult to fill since they don't have a reliable closer to step in.
7. The farm system isn't ready to help out. Yes, the Yankees have more talent than most folks give them credit. But the fact is that they don't have any players ready to immediately contribute to the major league club. With the payroll pressures that are already in place it's going to make it more difficult to restock the roster especially if one or more of their key players mentioned above
Given all of these factors, it may be wise for Girardi to think twice about accepting any contract extension offers. The next few years are likely to be difficult ones for the Yankees. Unless Girardi really wants to be presiding over an inevitable decline it might be a good time to quit while he's ahead of the game.