At this point it’s hard to be surprised that Raul Ibanez seems to be the Yankees top free agent target. Ken Davidoff reported today that the Yankees are negotiating “extensively” with the former Phillies outfielder. He’s clearly being targeted for his ability to hit right-handers and possibly fill a little bit of time in the outfield if necessary.
Interstingly, yesterday Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees planned to get both Ibanez and Eric Chavez for about $1 million apiece, but today Sherman heard the Yankees might have room in the budget for only one of those two.
If they choose to sign only one more hitter, the Yankees would seem to have an open a roster spot for one of several on-the-bubble players: Bill Hall, Russell Branyan, Chris Dickerson, Justin Maxwell, Brandon Laird, etc.
A few other notes and links from his last day before camp opens…
• One observation from here in Tampa: At the big league complex, the Yankees have built a big bullpen in the outfield of one of their little-used back fields. That’s where Hiroki Kuroda threw his bullpen today. The old bullpen — the one surrounded by a pedestrian bridge for easy viewing — is still there, but the setup for this new bullpen certainly makes it look like the go-to place this spring. It’s less accessible for fans, but the location is more convenient for players to do long toss immediately before throwing. Obviously that only really matters to those of you planning to make the trip down here this spring.
• The Yankees have asked Andy Pettitte whether he’d like to come into camp as an instructor. Pettitte stayed away last spring, but the Yankees would like to have him back in a sort of coaching capacity.
• Erik Boland says the A.J. Burnett trade isn’t likely to be official until Monday because the commissioner’s office want to wait until Burnett passes his physical before approving the trade.
• Go ahead and count out Johnny Damon. George King talked to Damon today, and Damon confirmed that the Yankees have told him they’re moving in a different direction.
• Add Clay Rapada to the list of possible left-handed relief options for the Yankees. The team announced today that it has signed Rapada to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. The signing comes just days after Hideki Okajima failed his physical, leaving the Yankees without the veteran lefty they were expecting. Rapada has held lefties to a .153 batting average in his career.
• I’m not a big video game guy, but you have to like CC Sabathia’s setup for Playstation 3. I’d play video games more often if I had something like that on the road.