After trading A starting outfielder (Melky Cabrera) for a starting pitcher (Javier Vazquez), the Yankees answered the rotation’s need for a pitcher but opened up a new hole in the outfield. Here's what the Yanks can do to fill that void:
The first option is to fill the whole from someone within the organization, namely, Gardner. Can he handle the starting job with Jamie Hoffmann as his backup? I say yes! Most believe he’s an awful major league hitter — I did too until I bothered to look at his numbers (.270 BA/.345 OBP/.379 SLG, 26 SB in 284 plate appearances). To me, that’s easily good enough to be a No. 9 hitter — even in the Yankees’ loaded lineup. Instead of acquiring someone to take his place, they could add a better backup than Hoffmann.
Free Agent disclaimer from Brian Cashman:
"I will continue to look at any remaining piece," Cashman said. "But it won't be a big piece. Any speculation about some high-end player who has big ability and dollars attached on a large scale would be inappropriate."
Going by that, Cashman is looking for a cheap, possibly one-year deal — so he can pursue next year’s strong FA class — so don’t expect a big name in left field in 2010.
This is who the Yankees seem most likely to deal for if any at all. He’s at the top of the Yankees’ wish list, according to Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record. He’s been a journeyman over the past six years, playing for five teams (two in AL). He usually brings a solid bat to the table, but his numbers have declined considerably over the past three years (.293 to .250 BA). He’s only played 412 innings in left field, but he gives the Yankees some flexibility if they want to give an infielder a day off. If he won’t accept a one-year deal around $5MM, I say he’s not worth it.
Matt Holliday/Jason Bay/Johnny Damon
This is where you have to use your instincts. You’ve read what Cashman said about not looking to sign a big piece this winter. However, he also said that last year and then he signed Mark Teixeira. Let me start off by saying it would be a disgrace if Damon came back at this point. He already rejected a two-year, $18 million contract from the Yankees. That won’t go over too well with the fans if he's in pinstripes next year. I say, he’s out of the picture. But then again, he’s an “idiot.” Who knows.
As for Holliday and Bay, I don’t think either is a guy the Yankees want to make a key part of this franchise. Their core group is already intact, and with their payroll hovering around $200 million right now, I don’t see them jumping another $15 million.
Cashman is loving the trades this offseason. He’s made three big ones so far, two being huge. As far as I know, he’s probably finalizing a trade right now with Ichiro, and somehow he’ll keep Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Jesus Montero on the team!
Thought I’d bring back this photoshopped image below to remind you how crowded last year’s outfield was.