With A-Rod ban settled, where do the Yankees go from here?

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The Yankees can finally move forward with their plans for 2014 now that Alex Rodriguez has received a 162-game ban which also includes the postseason. And they have to be pretty happy with how things have worked out.

It’s easy to see the benefits of having Rodriguez off the books for 2014, as he was due to make $25 million. Much has been made about the Yankees trying to get under the $189 million threshold, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that they will still be charged $3,155,737.70 for A-Rod for luxury tax purposes for 2014 since the suspension is for 162 games and not a full year. That could cut things very close depending on what else they do this offseason.

On a related note, the Yankees are believed to be one of the front-runners for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The savings from A-Rod, at least for 2014, should come in handy, but Tanaka is going to be very expensive. Due to the changes associated with the posting system, it will likely require a contract north of $100 million in order to sign him. That could easily push them over the $189 million figure.

Yes, the Yankees will save money with the suspension and won’t have to deal with the daily sideshow like we saw during the second half last season, but the loss of Rodriguez adds yet another question to the team’s infield going into 2014. Derek Jeter is no sure thing after being limited to just 17 games last season and the Yankees will attempt to piece together second base following the departure of Robinson Cano. As of now, they are counting on Kelly Johnson and the injury-prone Brian Roberts to be major contributors.

There’s still a chance that the Yankees could upgrade their infield via trade, as a Brett Gardner-for-Brandon Phillips swap has been mentioned in the past, but Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reported this morning that the Yankees were still looking at free agents Mark Reynolds and Michael Young as possible fallbacks at third base. Of course, neither are inspiring options, but there’s slim pickings out there.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.