The pieces that barely fit • 01.29.11
The best free agent still on the market is almost certainly Vladimir Guerrero, who had nice 2010 but suffered from a DH-heavy offseason market. These days, the Orioles are the team most commonly linked to him, but their reported offer of roughly $5 million doesn’t seem to have grabbed Guerrero’s attention.
There seems to be at least a small push within the fan base for the Yankees to make a run at Guerrero as a power bat off the bench, but I find it hard to see where he would find enough at-bats to justify a $5-million deal. Seems to me, it’s best to save that money for a move mid-season, when the team’s needs are more accurately defined.
Instead, the Yankees could sift through what’s left of the free agent market to add a low-cost option for the last spot on the bench.
Best fit: Lastings Milledge
Notable: Scott Podsednik, Ryan Church, Gabe Gross
The outfield market is still left-heavy, and that’s with Jim Edmonds reportedly leaning toward retirement. Milledge is a former top prospect who’s never quite produced at the big league level, but he’d be interesting as a fifth outfielder with upside. The trick might be getting him to take a job with such little playing time. I like Scott Podsednik, but it’s hard to envision a role for him a team that already has Brett Gardner.
Best fit: Felipe Lopez
Notable: Willy Aybar, Cristian Guzman, Eric Chavez, Joe Inglett
Lopez has played every position but center field and catcher at the big league level. He’s also hit .280/.351/.392 the past three years. He could be seen as an experienced alternative to Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena, or as a fourth man on the bench: Part fifth outfielder, part second utility infielder. The Yankees have plenty of Triple-A infielders, but at this point I wonder if Aybar and Inglett might have to settle for minor league deals with invitations to big league camp, kind of like Marcus Thames last year.
Best fit: None
Notable: Bengie Molina
The Yankees have plenty of catchers, so it’s hard to predict them getting back into this market. That said, Molina is still out there and would be an upgrade over Francisco Cervelli. Jon Heyman has reported that Molina wants to play if “special opportunities” present themselves. Would coming off the bench for the Yankees be a special opportunity? My guess is, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees have made their catching move of the offseason.