I’ve never participated in the whole Black Friday thing. I’ve never stood outside of Best Buy at midnight and never flooded into Target with a list of potential bargains. But I think it understand the general premise. Good stuff relatively cheap, correct?
Most of the players connected to the Yankees this offseason are going to be anything but cheap. Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka are going to require significant spending, but at some point, the Yankees are surely going to look for some smaller contracts to fill smaller holes.
On this day of discount shopping, here are a few smaller-ticket items that the Yankees might be in the market for this winter.
The Yankees aren’t really in a position to spend big money on a third baseman, because they’re not sure yet whether they need a third baseman. And, frankly, none of the available third basemen seem to be worth a significant investment. That said, the Yankees know Alex Rodriguez is likely to be suspended for at least part of the season, and even if he’s not, they’re going to need someone to fill in at third base from time to time. Eduardo Nunez, David Adams and Brendan Ryan are in-house possibilities, but at some point the Yankees might be in the market for a veteran with some power, maybe someone who’s fallen through the offseason cracks and suddenly stands out as a buy-low option. Mark Reynolds perhaps? We’ve already seen them grab a few utility types to provide minor league depth.
Cesar Cabral is on the roster, but he’s hardly a sure thing, and David Huff could be a prime non-tender candidate. Having lost Boone Logan to free agency, the Yankees have an obvious place for a left-handed reliever, and they could try to find a bargain in a guy who’s a strict left-on-left specialist. There seems to be a decent chance the Yankees will spend more heavily on a late-inning option — either a potential closer, or a new setup man to let Dave Robertson move into the ninth inning — but the bullpen has enough holes to be worth looking for a few more relief options to at least compete for jobs in spring training and perhaps provide minor league depth during the year. A lefty would be a welcome addition.
Backup center fielder
This isn’t a must-have, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Without Curtis Granderson, the Yankees center field depth hinges on Ichiro Suzuki and Zoilo Almonte (and maybe Adonis Garcia if he’s productive in Triple-A). Even if the Yankees sign Carlos Beltran, that’s a guy who’s started just seven games in center field the past three years. It’s hardly a given that Ichiro and/or Almonte will be productive enough to be worth a roster spot all year, and what if Gardner goes down in spring training? Could Ichiro or Almonte actually play center field every day in Yankee Stadium for a while? Some sort of fringy but experienced center fielder might give the Yankees some insurance.
A power hitter
Defensive position is a secondary concern. At this point, it seems possible the Yankees will head into spring training without an everyday designated hitter, which might be necessary with this roster of position players who could use a few DH days now and then. But it might also seem like an opportunity to some veteran hitter who has power and needs an opportunity to make a team. Maybe it’s a Lyle Overbay-type who might agree to a minor league contract in the hope of playing well in spring training and winning some platoon at-bats. Whether the Yankees have room for a guy like this might depend on their expectations for guys like Nunez, Ichiro and Vernon Wells, but a veteran hitter might be see this roster construction it as an opportunity to out-hit the other options and force his way into the mix.
Associated Press photo