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Worth the wait in finding one last position player?

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Mark Reynolds [2]

In the wake of today’s Brian Roberts signing, I believe it was our Ivy League friend Dan Barbarisi who was first to report that the Yankees have talked Mark Reynolds about a return to the Bronx, but “there is nothing even remotely close.” [3] I also can’t help but notice the team hasn’t officially announced the Carlos Beltran signing.

Just thinking outloud, but it might make sense for the Yankees to hold off on additional position player moves for the moment. Not if they can add a huge piece, but adding role players and making signings official can probably wait while the Yankees hope for A-Rod clarity and explore every Ichiro trade opportunity.

Let’s assume the Yankees are going to carry 13 position players. Then let’s count the guys who are basically locked into big league jobs next season:

1. Brian McCann, 2. Mark Teixeira, 3. Brian Roberts, 4. Derek Jeter, 5. Kelly Johnson, 6. Brett Gardner, 7. Jacoby Ellsbury, 8. Carlos Beltran, 9. Alfonso Soriano, 10. Francisco Cervelli, 11. Brendan Ryan.

We can debate whether it’s Cervelli or Austin Romine in that backup catcher job, but the exact name doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Yankees are going to carry a backup catcher and at least one backup shortstop, and that means 11 roster spots are locked up.

Which leaves two spots open.

Let’s say one goes to a fifth outfielder. That might not be a certainty — Johnson could play the fifth outfielder role — but even assuming a regular fifth outfielder means there’s room for only one of Ichiro Suzuki or Vernon Wells (maybe neither if a guy like Zoilo Almonte can swoop in and win the spot). Regardless, it’s pretty clear the Yankees are not planning to carry both Ichiro and Wells, and either one would play a pretty tiny role. If Ichiro can bring any sort of positive return — even if it’s just dumping some of his salary — that’s worth investigating before the Yankees are forced to bump someone else off the 40-man to make room for Beltran.

There’s also room for one right-handed third baseman. Maybe that’s Reynolds. Maybe it’s Michael Young. Maybe it’s Eduardo Nunez. Maybe, just maybe, it’s  Rodriguez. For now, the Yankees are slightly vulnerable because they don’t know Rodriguez’s fate. They could proactively sign a guy like Reynolds, but it would open the possibility of having two players for one spot. Granted, that might be a chance the Yankees have to take — and let’s face it, I think most people are expecting at least some sort of Rodriguez suspension — but it certainly doesn’t hurt the Yankees to hold off as long as they can before making some sort of third base move. If Reynolds gets close to coming off the board, then the Yankees might have to spring into action. But if that’s not the case, it makes sense to wait.

Associated Press photo