Back in October, eight Yankees filed for free agency. Two have since re-signed, one is on the verge of retirement, and none have landed with a new team. How many more might make sense for the Yankees to bring back?
Luis Ayala – One of the truly unexpected surprises of last season, Ayala showed up on a minor league deal, became the last man added to the Opening Day roster and lasted the entire season as a combination of mopup reliever and occasional backup plan in the late innings. Ayala was good, and might be able to spin that season into a big league deal this winter. The Yankees might be interested, but it’s hard to imagine them paying a significant amount to bring him back.
Eric Chavez — Perpetually tied to the Yankees now that Hiroyuki Nakajima failed to reach a deal, Chavez could return to his familiar bench role as a backup third baseman capable of giving Alex Rodriguez a few days off. He’s a left-handed hitter, which makes him a nice fit on the Yankees right-handed bench. Certainly can’t rule out the idea of a Chavez return.
Bartolo Colon — How much would you invest in hopes that Colon can repeat last season’s first half? Clearly he was one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball last season — from out of the game to some sustained stretches of dominance — but he faded badly after the all-star break, and his history of injury problems send up several red flags. He could be a match if he’ll settle for another low-risk contract, but he might be able to find something more.
Freddy Garcia – Back to play the same role as last year, except this time on a guaranteed deal. Garcia accepted a minor league contract late last winter, then gave the Yankees consistency at the back of the rotation. He proved himself, and the Yankees are putting some faith in his ability to do it again.
Andruw Jones – His deal isn’t official just yet, but Jones will be back to give the Yankees some right-handed power off the bench. He’s a platoon player at this point in his career, but he’s a popular guy in the clubhouse and delivered last season, especially in the second half.
Damaso Marte – Injuries robbed Marte of much of his Yankees career, and even with the Yankees looking for a left-handed reliever, it’s impossible to believe they’d trust Marte with a big league deal at this point. There’s no telling whether he could still be effective. Might have settle for a minor league contract to prove himself all over again.
Sergio Mitre – Hard to see a place for Mitre this year. The Yankees didn’t have a place for him out of spring training last year, but they wound up getting him back, only to have him shutdown because of injury. Could be that we’ve seen the end of Mitre in pinstripes, but then again, it is Sergio Mitre. He’s come back before.
Jorge Posada – Could be a matter of days before Posada officially retires. He wasn’t coming back to the Yankees anyway, and it seems he’d rather call it quits than play elsewhere.
Associated Press photo