How does New York finish the offseason?
Let’s ignore the right-handed, 30 home run-capable, “elephant” in the room.
It’s been mentioned enough times since the moment Denard Span joined the Nationals that Michael Morse would be the ideal replacement for Nick Swisher‘s bat and Raul Ibanez‘s spot on the Yankees’ roster.
With Adam LaRoche finally resigning with the Nationals, the Morse sweepstakes are underway and it’s obvious the Yankees are in play.
But assume it doesn’t work out. Maybe the Rays part with prospects for a one year rental.
Maybe the Rangers go all-in for that power bat they sorely wanted all winter and choose to ignore they just overpaid for Lance Berkman.
Assume the Orioles overpay and bring their guy into the other clubhouse of the mid-atlantic.
Or the Mariners feel they can contend despite Texas, Oakland and Los Angeles watching over them.
Assume the Yankees don’t make a move.
Assume status quo.
How does New York finish the offseason?
Let’s review the necessities:
It wouldn’t be a Yankees’ offseason if they didn’t bring in a veteran innings eater on a one year deal to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Ever since Brian Cashman handed rotation slots to Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in 2008- and the Yankees failed to make the playoffs- the Bronx Bomber’s GM has generally signed a veteran in the offseason whether it be Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, or someone else.
It’s difficult to see the Pinstripes headed into Spring Training without a prototypical fourth outfielder, as it’s unlikely Matt Diaz was the final stop, although of Chris Dickerson clears assignment, despite being a lefty, he could contend for that spot as well.
Finally, with two of Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Chris Stewart likely to make the team, Eduardo Nunez sure to warm the bench, Russ Canzler there to backup the corner infield, that leaves one empty offensive spot on the bench.
So essentially, the Yankees could still pursue a low-cost, one year contract on a starter, any hitter whatsoever (since the DH spot is open until at least June) and a player who can play the outfield or second base, depending on where they feel the extra depth is necessary.
Let’s review the options (minus a trade possibility): Not a Fit
Hairston would fit the criteria of an outfielder and a bat who can hit righties.
The Yankees have been linked on and off to the former Met all offseason, especially with his ability to hit 20 home runs and all.
However, with the Mets able to likely offer more than one year and starting time, the Yankees’ cross-town rivals alone have stronger bargaining chips, not to mention any other team who might jump out of the woodwork.
He’s been linked to the Red Sox more than any trace of being linked back to the Yankees, but worth nothing Abreu takes pitches, fills the role of a DH, would have a short porch in right and can play the outfield if the world were ending.
Not a strong fit and I doubt the Yankees want to take up a roster spot giving him a shot.
Would probably be surprising if they stepped on a major league field again let alone in Yankee Stadium.
With Ankiel, the Yankees might as well go with Diaz, and with Sizemore it’s unclear if he will ever be healthy again.
His own agent said he’s likely not going to be ready until mid-season.
Once upon a time, the Yankees expressed interest in Baker, but it was likely more around 2009 when he posted a .362 OBP.
Now, despite being a fit since he can play second base and pinch-hit in a pinch, Baker is more like a guy who may not hit his weight.
Better off with a player from the system like Ronnie Mustelier or David Adams than committing to Baker.
Bourn is arguably the last truly attractive Free Agent.
That’s the exact reason the Yankees won’t sign him. With Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, New York already has three top of the order bats, not to mention a full outfield and a thirst for a right-handed middle of the order bat.
Bourn fits none of those qualifications.
It’s kind of unclear what the market is for Braden, but he would fit the bill as a pitcher to take a flyer on.
Braden has had shoulder surgery so we don’t know if he can be the guy who threw over 192 innings in 2010 or not, but a non-roster invite to Spring Training can drum up some starting pitcher competition for Ivan Nova.
Jurrjens follows a similar criteria, but with a higher upside.
Probably the highest upside out of any starter who can be had on a one year deal. Marcum can be a middle-of-the-rotation arm when healthy, but he’s rarely healthy.
Still, even a few months of reliable pitching might be worth a one year deal for the amount of upside potential.
Numerous other teams may have the same idea.
This screams of a Cashman type of move. Millwood can eat innings, and just like last season, the Yankees don’t need to use him if they don’t want to.
I’m not sure the veteran wants another non-guaranteed job and to be stored in the minors like he was his last go-round with the Yankees, but someone like him or Randy Wolf is the most likely starter solution.
He has some pop, hits righty and can play the outfield. The Yankees’ requirements are pretty low, but again, it would seem redundant to offer spots to Francisco and Diaz.
There has been recent interest, so we’ll say he’s a potential fit, but I don’t see it happening.
Recently, it was reported the Yankees do not have interest in Thome. It’s kind of a head scratcher and obviously not a negotiation ploy as Thome could almost assuredly be acquired for cheap and definitely on a one year deal.
He’s not ideally what Cashman has been touting all winter, but he is a prolific power bat and a lefty with a short porch in right field.
Thome could comfortably DH with his days in the field long behind him and he’s said to be a great clubhouse guy.
Maybe it’s because he’s strictly a bat and left-handed, but I would support this signing even if it was simply a power threat in the late innings.
As for Hafner, similar mold but more injury prone, less power and less likely to be signed.
Let me preface this by saying the Yankees have been pretty adamant of saying “no” to Delmon, likely because of the whole “hate crime” allegations against him.
While it’s true Cashman doesn’t really sign clubhouse problems and Young is almost assuredly not coming to the Bronx on a one year deal, the fit is still there.
Young can play the outfield if need be, is a solid righty hitter and just once it would be nice not to face him in the playoffs.
That all said, I trust Cashman in his promise to not bring Young aboard.
It would be realistic if the Yankees sign either Millwood or Wolf (Michael Pineda is more like Marcum with high reward despite questionable health), Thome DH’s and Nunez, Stewart, Canzler and Diaz make up the bench with Chris Dickerson (assuming he clears assignment) and the loser for the fifth spot remaining stored in the minors.
Ideally, the Yankees don’t have to make a Thome type signing because Michael Morse becomes the DH for a package of Adam Warren or Brett Marshall and someone like Cesar Cabral, who offers a high-upside left handed arm out of the bullpen.
Expect a solution sooner rather than later now that LaRoche is finally locked up.