The World Series ended just a few short days ago, but the offseason is already well under way.
The New York Yankees have several tough decisions to make during the winter months leading up to spring training, many of which will shape the franchise for the next decade.
Will Alex Rodriguez be traded? Will Curtis Granderson be shipped out? Is Mariano Rivera returning? Is Rafael Soriano worth chasing after? Will Andy Pettitte return? How about Hiroki Kuroda? Is Russell Martin the answer behind the plate?
That doesn't even represent all of the questions general manager Brian Cashman must answer this winter. One problem that he'll need to solve his what to do with his corner outfield spots.
Assuming Granderson isn't traded, he'll likely be the Opening Day center fielder. Barring any other major signing that would shift him over to left, that's his position for 2013.
All signs point to Brett Gardner playing left field, although the possible re-signing of Ichiro Suzuki could change that.
That leaves right field for Cashman to fill.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim freed up some money on Wednesday by shipping Ervin Santana off to Kansas City, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today claims that they still won't be making a qualifying offer ($13.3 million) to Torii Hunter.
Despite saving $12 million in Santana trade, the #Angels showing no inclination of making $13.3 million qualifer to popular OF Torii Hunter.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 31, 2012
The Yankees have interest in Torii Hunter, a source said. Hunter is unlikely to get a qualifying offer, so he wouldn't cost a draft pick.— Mark Feinsand (@BloggingBombers) November 1, 2012
This would be a very smart acquisition for Cashman, but only if it is on a one-year deal possibly including a team option for 2014. Hunter seemed to be rejuvenated last season, posting arguably his best numbers since the 2009 season.
In 534 at-bats, Hunter compiled a line of .313/.365/.451 with 16 home runs, 92 RBI, 81 runs scored and nine steals.
He was great—as usual—in the outfield, compiling 14 assists and making just four errors.
At this point in his career, Hunter is not a guy that will carry an offense. He is a perfect complementary player, however, and should be made a priority for the Yankees this offseason.
He plays a great right field and can still provide above average production at the plate. Not to mention the type of presence he brings to the clubhouse.
Hunter has also had success in the postseason during his career. In eight career playoff series, Hunter owns a line of .305/.370/.489 with four home runs and 18 RBI. That aspect about his game will prove invaluable come next October.
Losing Nick Swisher will likely be hard for Yankee fans to swallow, but replacing him with another stand-up guy like Hunter would help to make the adjustment a little bit easier.