It’s well established that the Yankees are chasing CC Sabathia, and bringing back their ace has become a clear priority this winter. The lineup, on the other hand, is near the bottom of to-do list. Yankees seem willing to stick with more or less the same offense — with Jesus Montero taking Jorge Posada’s spot at DH — but if they’re going to shake it up, right field might be the place to make a change.
At their organizational meetings this week in Tampa, the Yankees discussed their in-house options and potential free agent targets. Of course Carlos Beltran’s name was mentioned. As expected, though, the Yankees seem to be leaning toward retaining Nick Swisher and letting Beltran land elsewhere.
Which would you rather have?
This year: .260/.374/.449
Past three years: .267/.368/.486
Career postseason: .169/.295/.323
Games played the past three years: 450
This year: .300/.385/.525
Past three years: .298/.384/.497
Career postseason: .366/.485/.817
Games played the past three years: 287
I’ve written this before, but to me, Swisher is an easy call. Beltran has been a better player, but I’m not sure he’s been overwhelmingly better. This isn’t a comparison of a superstar vs. a fourth outfielder. Swisher’s been plenty productive these past three years, and his defense seems to be improving. Three reasons to lean toward Swisher.
• The commitment. Even if the Yankees could sign Beltran for the same amount of annual money, the last thing they need is another multi-year deal with a player in his mid-30s who doesn’t have the cleanest health record.
• The injuries. Beltran played only 81 games in 2009 and only 64 in 2010. He’s coming off a relatively healthy season — even then he was shutdown for a while — but he’s no guarantee to last one full season, much less three. Swisher’s been banged up the past two years, but he’s played through a lot of bumps and bruises.
• The playoffs. Obviously Beltran has better postseason numbers, but I have a hard time making too much of it. For one thing, Beltran hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2006, when he was a 29-year-old center fielder. Swisher’s a better player than he’s shown in the postseason, and I can’t put too much emphasis on those relatively small samples.
* Hard to predict the free agent market at this point, but the corner outfield market exploded last winter and Beltran is coming off a contract that paid him $18.5 million the past four years. He won’t get that much, but he and Michael Cuddyer seem to be the top corner outfielders on the market, so Beltran’s not going to settle for a small contract. Earlier this year, Joel Sherman predicted at leaset three years, $42 million.
Associated Press photo