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Availability and opportunity

Tweet [1]

[2]The Yankees should use the money they didn’t spend on Cliff Lee to sign Rafael Soriano. That seems to be the newest line of thinking, certainly within the fan base and possibly within the front office.

It would be a lot of money to spend on an eighth-inning guy — and I’m not as down on the in-house options as some folks — but with an aging closer and obvious room in the budget, building an insanely good bullpen makes some sense. Imagine having last season’s end-of-the-year bullpen for the entire season. That would shorten the game quite a bit.

That said — if only to look at this thing from the outside in — I can’t help wondering if that the Yankees might be at a disadvantage in the Soriano sweepstakes. Yes, Scott Boras has said Soriano would be open to pitching the eighth inning for the Yankees, [3] but there are two bits of caution that come with that story.

1. When has Boras ever ruled out the Yankees? No matter Soriano’s preference, it’s obviously in his best interest to keep the Yankees in the mix.

2. Being open to pitching the eighth inning for the Yankees does not mean Soriano puts that job on the same level as closing elsewhere. Offered equal money to setup in New York or close elsewhere, which would he choose?

There are quite a few back-of-the-bullpen types available, but all of them could look for at least the potential to slide into the closer role. It’s already been reported that Brian Fuentes prefers a team that will put him in the ninth, [4]and let’s face it, there are few teams with the ninth-inning more locked up than the Yankees.

Lee and Kerry Wood have already signed elsewhere simply because they preferred a different situation, not necessarily because they preferred a different offer. In wondering what moves the Yankees could make in these last few weeks of winter, the other side matters. The Yankees might have to offer a little more to convince someone to take a lesser position.

Associated Press photo