This is the Yankees last day of exclusive rights to their own free agents. The negotiating window closes at midnight. At 12:01 Sunday morning, the frenzy begins. Already the Yankees have bumped Chad Guadin off the roster, and Royce Ring has declared free agency.
Much bigger decisions are looming.
In his radio interviews on Tuesday, Hal Steinbrenner was already preparing the fan base for the possibility of a lengthy negotiating process with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. No one seems to expect Andy Pettitte to make a decision any time soon.
Assuming those three aren’t going to sign in the next few hours, the Yankees immediate decisions are limited to two players who had as many as 70 at-bats this season.
In some ways, he makes sense: Right-handed hitter in a left-leaning outfield; can play both corners plus center field in a pinch; probably won’t cost a lot. That said, he was bad enough in 2008 and 2009 that he accepted a minor league deal this offseason, and although he hit a little bit for Cleveland, he did next to nothing for the Yankees.
If the Yankees could get him on the same deal as this season — minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp — he would be a no-brainer, but Thames had a good enough year that he should certainly test the market for a Major League contract. He was terrific this season, but given the Yankees need to keep the designated hitter spot open, he might not make much sense this time around. Probably best for both sides to explore their options before entering into a quick agreement.
Associated Press photo of Thames