As teams around the league are scooping up free agents to fill their weakest positions, the New York Yankees are waiting patiently to find deals that fit into their future plans, despite having holes at third base, catcher, and right field.
With Alex Rodriguez expected to be out until June and Nick Swisher and Russell Martin leaving via free agency, the Yankees are looking to add some power to their lineup, but don't want to commit to any deals longer than one year in order to lower the team's payroll next offseason.
While the Yankees focus on long-term payroll goals, free agents on their radar are being picked up quickly. Candidates to replace A-Rod at third base such as Marco Scutaro, Yunel Escobar, Jeff Keppinger, and Eric Chavez have signed elsewhere and Nate Schierholtz, a favorite to replace Swisher in right field, signed with the Chicago Cubs.
Though the free agent market has been trimmed down, there are still other options out there for the Yankees. A few players that have been linked to New York as fill-ins for A-Rod are Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, and Kevin Youkilis, though Drew wants a full-time position, Reynolds is better suited as a first baseman, and Youkilis is drawing interest from teams willing to give him a multi-year deal.
When looking to find a right fielder, the Yankees still have the option of resigning Ichiro Suzuki, who has expressed mutual interest in returning to the Bronx. However, the Yankees view Ichiro as the same type of speed player that Brett Gardner is, so the team could still look to add a power-hitting corner outfielder. One candidate still available is Scott Hairston, though he has not ruled out resigning with the New York Mets.
At catcher, the Yankees have been linked to free agent A.J. Pierzynski, formerly of the Chicago White Sox. Pierzynski could replace Martin's offensive production, but is coming off a career-high 27 home runs last season and might be too expensive for New York's budget. Other options include in-house players such as Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, or Austin Romine.
The Yankees have also considered resigning Raul Ibanez as a designated hitter, but the 40 year-old postseason hero has drawn interest from several teams this offseason and could pursue a bigger role in another team's lineup.
While the Yankees have sat patiently thus far, expect general manager Brian Cashman to explore all options and eventually fill out the roster with proven veterans capable of competing at a high level. The Yankees may be looking to save some cash and lower the team's payroll, but New York's first priority is always winning, so expect the Yankees to field a competitive team when the season starts next spring.
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