As the New York Yankees aim to lower the team's payroll under $189 million by the start of the 2014 season, general manager Brian Cashman is focusing on acquiring older players who are willing to accept one-year deals. However, the free agent market is shrinking and the Yankees are beginning to run out of outfield options.
After another poor postseason performance from Nick Swisher, the Yankees have decided to let him test free agency and are searching for a replacement. The Yankees could bring back Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez, but Ibanez is strictly a designated hitter at this point of his career and Ichiro plays a similar role to left fielder Brett Gardner, so New York would still like to acquire a power-hitting corner outfielder.
Torii Hunter was an option earlier this offseason, but he recently signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers. Former Yankee Melky Cabrera was also mentioned as a high-caliber hitter who would be willing to accept a short-term deal after his 50 game suspension ended his season, but Cabrera signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for two years.
Texas Rangers star center fielder Josh Hamilton headlines this free agent class and would normally be a dangerous hitter in Yankee Stadium, but New York's new philosophy of lowering the team's payroll takes them out of the running for the All-Star.
This leaves the Yankees with a few options. Cody Ross, who hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI last season for the Boston Red Sox, could be willing to take a short-term deal to play for a contending team like the Yankees and posted similar stats to Swisher last year.
Another option is Shane Victorino, though he is a speed player much like Gardner and Ichiro, so it's unlikely the Yankees would attempt to sign both.
If the Yankees look to trade for a corner outfielder, Shin-Soo Choo of the Cleveland Indians could be their first target. He would provide provide some power from the left side of the plate and will be a free agent after the 2013 season, not affecting the team's 2014 payroll goal.
Veteran Andruw Jones is also a free agent, after serving as the team's fourth outfielder for two seasons. Jones is losing range in the outfield and is better suited as a part-time designated hitter next season, so his return to the team is unlikely. Depending on the team's payroll situation, the Yankees could turn to their minor league affiliates to find a fourth outfielder next season.
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