Spring training is just around the corner, but that doesn't mean teams can (and will) make moves to fill out their roster.
The New York Yankees are just about set in terms of their 40-man roster. With additions to their pitching rotation (Michael Pineda, Hirodi Kuroda), some re-signings (Andruw Jones, Freddy Garcia), and minor-league deals (Bill Hall, Russell Branyan), the team is looking to continue its winning ways in the AL East.
However, that doesn't mean the Yankees can't make a few bold moves for the upcoming season. Here are five suggestions for what the Yankees could do (but probably won't).
With Jesus Montero traded to the Seattle Mariners, Austin Romine has the opportunity to be used more often at the major league level.
He was a call-up last season after injuries to both Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli. The Yankees could have used Jesus Montero, but decided to let him keep developing him in the minors.
Though Romine appeared in only nine games, he played decently.
He lacks Montero's power, but is much better defensively. He also was decent hitting for contact in Double-A Trenton last season, finishing with a batting average of .286.
Problem is, Martin and Cervelli are still on the roster. Unless Romine truly breaks out in spring training, or either Martin or Cervelli suffers another injury, Romine likely will be playing in Triple-A until later in the year.
Now hold up just a second.
First of all, I like Nick Swisher. He's a fan favorite among Yankee fans who hits for a good amount of power.
However, I actually think the Yankees have too much power.
With Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones (if used as the designated hitter) in the lineup, plus the possible addition of Raul Ibanez, it;s ridiculous.
Also, at 31 years old, Swisher is nearing the end of his prime, has a mediocre batting average and is being paid a hefty $10.25 million this season
Swisher can still play, and with one year left on his contract, he'd be perfect for a National League team looking to contend.
In return, the Yankees could get some prospects to either help fill their farm system, or be used in a trade for another future star (similar to trading Montero for Pineda).
But who could fill in for Swisher?
Chris Dickerson, while still slightly younger, might be a decent fit.
Though he hasn't played in more than 97 games in a season, he has speed and the ability to hit for contact. He'd be a decent guy to have in the back of the lineup.
Another idea would be to use prospect Zoilo Almonte.
Last season, playing for Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, he hit .276 with 15 homers, 77 RBI and 14 steals. Though he doesn't have a tool that stands out, he does have a good mix of power and speed. He can play all three outfield positions, which is always nice. He's also a switch hitter, just like Swisher.
Or they could...
It seems that any day now, the Yankees will trade A.J. Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates. But outside of salary relief, what else will they get in return?
How about an outfielder (as a replacement for Swisher)?
The Pirates actually have two prospects who would be good for the Yankees to grab.
The first is Starling Marte, considered to be the third-best prospect in the Pirates organization (40th overall), according to MLB.com's 2012 Prospect Watch.
Like Almonte, he boasts a mix of power and speed. He 332 in Altoona last season, wining the Double-A Eastern League batting title. He's also played well defensively. The only problem is that he needs work on his plate discipline, which I think will come in due time.
However, because of his mutil-tool abilities and the possible loss of Nate McLouth to free agency after this season, the Pirates will likely want to keep him.
The more likely choice would be Robbie Grossman, who is the eighth-best prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com's 2012 Prospect Watch.
Similar to Almonte, he doesn't have an individual tool that stands out. However, last season, playing for Single-A Bradenton, he held the rare distinction of having more than 100 walks and 100 runs scored in the same season (104 walks, 127 runs). And, like Swisher, he can hit from both sides of the plate.
Yes, say what you will about Derek Jeter. He's an all-time great. He's a Yankee legend. He's the captain of this historic franchise.
But he's also 37 years old and bound to go on the decline at some point.
It certainly looked like he was going to last season, until he returned from injury after the All-Star break and went on a surprising tear, beating Brett Gardner's average by 40 points.
But do you think Jeter could do the same this year, or in 2013 or 2014, if they pick up his option?
Gardner, a guy who can steal 40-50 bases a season, should not be batting in the bottom third of the lineup. His ability to get on base and advance into scoring position helps guys like Cano and Teixeira drive in runs.
He also has great plate discipline, making contact on 93 percent of his swings.
Yes, Gardner has trouble hitting lefties, but his speed and plate discipline more than make up for it.
Unless something should happen to him, Gardner should take the leadoff spot from Jeter in 2012.
I still think that's true.
Which is why instead of signing Raul Ibanez, they should go for Guerrero.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Guerrero has expressed interest in being the Yankees DH. However, Ibanez is considered to be the front-runner.
Though he's likely more expensive than Ibanez and doesn't have as much pop, I like it that Guerrero can still hit in that .290-.300 range. Ibanez's average regressed to just .244 last season.
Power is good, but it doesn't help if you have trouble hitting the ball. Guerrero still has the ability to hit it very well, whereas Ibanez is on a huge decline. Besides, the team already has plenty of power as it is.