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Yankees early free agent expectations seem limited and familiar

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This weekend, the free agent market opens to everyone. The exclusive negotiating window closes, and players will be free to sign anywhere.

So far, though, the free agents most commonly linked to the Yankees are familiar names.

When MLB Trade Rumors ranked its Top 50 free agents [2] and predicted a landing spot for each one, seven were predicted to sign with the Yankees. Six of those were Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Soriano, Russell Martin, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Eric Chavez. It’s too early to have a great feel for the market, but the early sense seems to be that the Yankees are more likely to make a major splash through trades than free agents.

Part of that based on the Yankees needs (the market offers no obvious upgrade at catcher and a lot of uncertainty on the mound), part of that is because of the market itself (the few elite players available come with some significant concerns) and part of that is because of the Yankees desire to cut payroll going forward (many of the Yankees own free agents seem like candidates for one-year deals).

But there is one execption.

The early outsider most easily linked to the Yankees [3] is Torii Hunter. He fits the Yankees profile as a guy who takes walks and hits for power. He fills an obvious need in right field. He’s not likely to want more than a one-year or two-year deal. The Angels are reportedly unlikely to make him a qualifying offer, [4]which means he probably won’t cost the Yankees a draft pick.

We’re only four days into the offseason, so there’s plenty of time for things to change, but for now the Yankees free agent buzz is limited and familiar.