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Best of what’s left

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The weekend after the Winter Meetings seems like a good time to take a look at what’s left on the free agent market. Obviously not all of these players fit the Yankees needs, but it does give some idea of the strength of the market as we wrap up the first week of December.

CF Michael Bourn
3B Kevin Youkilis
LF Josh Hamilton
RF Nick Swisher
1B Adam LaRoche
DH Cody Ross
C A.J. Pierzynski
2B Kelly Johnson
SS Stephen Drew

Most of these choices are pretty clear. I’ll give Youkilis the nod over Mark Reynolds as the top third baseman on the market, and I’ll give Ross the DH spot ahead of an injury risk like Lance Berkman. Second base and shortstop — not surprisingly — are clearly the weakest spots on the market right now. And take a look at the bottom half of this order. There are a lot of left-handed bats out there.

OF Ichiro Suzuki
2B/SS Hiroyuki Nakajima
1B/3B Mark Reynolds
C Rod Barajas

The outfield market matters a great deal to the Yankees. The stars are obviously listed above in my starting lineup, but there’s still significant depth available, especially with platoon bats. Guys like Ryan Sweeney, Scott Hairston, Delmon Young, Raul Ibanez, Matt Diaz, Andres Torres and even (if he’s healthy) Grady Sizemore could be helpful in specific roles. As for a utility option, I have no idea whether Nakajima — the guy the Yankees actually had the rights to last winter — can hit in the big leagues or play somewhere other than shortstop, but given the alternatives, I’d rather give him a shot.

RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Kyle Lohse
RHP Shaun Marcum

After Greinke, the starting pitching market has always been full of good-but-not-great options; guys who could be anywhere from a No. 2 to a No. 4, and who come with some obvious questions about either durability or high-end potential. The Yankees grabbed two of those guys when they re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. For the most part, the rest of the top starters are still available. My list doesn’t include Ryan Dempster, Joe Saunders or Francisco Liriano. There are still plenty of interesting rotation options out there.

RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP Brian Wilson
RHP Mike Adams
RHP Jose Valverde
RHP Brett Myers
RHP Matt Capps
RHP Carlos Villanueva

I usually try to make these resemble actual rosters, but for this bullpen, my choices are more about making a point than creating a pitching staff. There’s significant risk in guys like Brian Wilson, Matt Capps and (yikes) Jose Valverde, but the market does offer plenty of options that have late-inning or closing experience. Clearly Soriano is the cream of the crop, but he’s also going to be wildly more expensive than the others. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of opportunities these guys get (and what kind of role Villanueva settles into).

Associated Press photos