This is the week before Christmas, which means things are about to get pretty quiet. There’s no rule that says a team has to stop making significant moves during the week of Christmas, but it certainly seems to be the norm. A few things going on as we head into this week…
• We’re waiting for the Ichiro Suzuki situation to resolve itself. A new contract seems to be a done deal, but it’s not official just yet. When it is, the Yankees will have their right fielder — completing an all-left-handed outfield — and can shift their focus to finding a designated hitter and a right-handed bat off the bench. Of all things going on with the Yankees, nothing seems more imminent than the Ichiro signing.
• Finding a right-handed outfielder doesn’t have to happen on the free agent market. Scott Hairston and Cody Ross are available, but right-handed outfielders aren’t exactly rare, and the Yankees could look to trade for one. Over the weekend, they were linked to Vernon Wells, who’s been no more than a bench player for a few years now, and certainly should be available now that the Angels have Josh Hamilton. Thing is, Wells doesn’t hit lefties, and that’s the one thing the Yankees would need him to do. He hit for good power against them in 2011, but he didn’t hit them last year, and he didn’t hit them in 2010 or 2009. It might be nice to dream on what he could become, but he’s under contract through 2014. Only way for a Wells trade to make sense is if the Angels pick up the tab.
• One other Yankees outfield rumor: Nick Cafardo reported this weekend that some people in baseball believe the Yankees might eventually get into the Michael Bourn bidding if the price drops. Cafardo makes no secret of that being speculation, and it’s an interesting idea, except that Bourn is actually a little bit older than Brett Gardner, also bats left-handed, and has a career slash line of .272/.339/.365 compared to Gardner’s .266/.355/.368. Clearly Bourn is the more proven player — easier to count on him repeating his results than to count on Gardner — but why make a significant free agent commitment to a player who might not be any better than what the Yankees have in-house?
• You might have noticed the Blue Jays are at it again. They’re now on the verge of trading for Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, which would be yet another move to solidify the Toronto rotation in an attempt to finally win again. Long-term, the trade might be a significant loss for the Blue Jays — they’re losing two of their very best prospects and getting only a year or two of Dickey — but long-term isn’t what matters right now. The Blue Jays are going for it. They seem to sense that the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are each taking steps backwards, and they’re going to make a rush for that wide-open door to the top of the A.L. East. Giving up two of their top three prospects seems like quite a price to pay for the Blue Jays, but the return could be significant here and now.
Associated Press photo