5 Players Still Within New York Yankees' Reach
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The New York Yankees are having a quiet winter, but there are some guys who could still end up in pinstripes come springtime.
Hal Steinbrenner's organization is not spending as much as usual this offseason, committing to get the payroll below the luxury tax line by 2014.
'I’m looking at it as a goal, but my goals are normally considered a requirement,' Steinbrenner said while speaking to reporters in the lobby of George M. Steinbrenner Field, named after his father. 'Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at 189? No, it’s not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury tax threshold, and that’s where I want to be.'
Despite the tightened purse strings in the Bronx, the Bombers are in need of a righty bat in the outfield and some cheap pop behind the plate.
Let's take a look at some potential options within the Yanks' reduced budget.
Baker's versatility could be an asset for the Yankees.
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Jeff Baker is not a sexy free-agent option, but he brings a lot of different things to the table.
First and foremost, Baker is a righty outfielder. Considering Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro are all left-handed batters, a guy like Baker will be essential against southpaw pitchers.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, Baker is one of a few outfielders the Yankees are eyeing:
Though Baker is not the best at the plate, he makes up for it with the ability to field multiple positions. Last season, in addition to the corner outfield spots, Baker also spent time at first, second and third base.
Since Matt Diaz just signed a minor league deal, getting a righty outfielder is no longer essential. Baker's extra utility as a fielder gives him added value for the Yankees.
The Yanks may try to lure Hairston's bat from across town.
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Scott Hairston would be a perfect fit for the Yanks, but they're facing some competition.
Playing for the Mets last season, Hairston feasted on lefty pitching, batting .286 with a .550 slugging percentage. That's the kind of power that the Yankees crave out of a fourth outfielder.
That said, Hairston wants a two-year contract, which could be a deal breaker for Steinbrenner; he might not be willing to add another salary to the 2014 payroll.
If New York decides to offer him a second year, though, Hairston might not be able to pass up the opportunity to golf balls out of Yankee Stadium.
Vernon Wells' huge price tag might not be the Yankees' problem.
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One glance at Vernon Wells' outrageous contract, and he seems like a terrible option for the Yankees.
A couple years ago, that would've been absurd to say about Wells. Before he became an Angel, Wells was good for Gold Glove fielding and about 20 to 30 home runs a year for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Though he hit 25 homers in his first season out west, Wells batted just .218 with a paltry.660 OPS. He was not much better in 2012 when injury and ineffectiveness limited him to 77 games played.
At the same time, that drop-off means the Yankees can now afford Wells. As a platoon option, they can afford to role the dice on a minor resurgence from the three-time All-Star; they still have three quality outfielders in town if he does not produce.
If the Angels are amenable and the price is right, the Yankees might be willing to part with a minor leaguer or two to bring Wells to New York.
Shoppach would give the Yanks a decent bat behind the plate.
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If the Yankees look into getting a catcher with a little bit of power, Kelly Shoppach could be their guy.
Right now, New York has three catchers who could get playing time in 2013: Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, each of whom are more or less career backups, and Austin Romine, an unspectacular 24-year-old prospect.
The Yankees passed up a chance to sign A.J. Pierzynski, and all the signs say that they don't want to invest substantially in a catcher right now. Nonetheless, a cheap bat could come in handy.
Shoppach has hit double-digits in home runs three times in his career, most recently in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays. Granted he did hit just .176 that season, but he has a .226 career batting average, which is still not good, but much better than that sub-Mendoza campaign.
New York could get Shoppach for next to nothing. He won't bring much other than some occasional pop, but that's all the Yanks need from him.
Rod Barajas could bring his strong swinging to the Bronx, but someone else might sign him soon.
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If the Yanks act fast, they could snag a serious bat behind the plate in Rod Barajas.
Barajas is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, but he still showed why he's stuck around for 11 seasons in the majors. As the starting catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Barajas hit just .206, but he still smacked 11 home runs in 104 games.
Like Shoppach, Barajas also has a slightly better career average, .235, than the disappointing figure he just posted. More impressively, and more importantly for the Yankees, it was his fifth straight season with at least 10 homers, and the eighth in his last nine season.
He has proven power and he still comes cheap, so it's no surprise that Barajas has other suitors. NBC Sports reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks have offered him their backup job. If the Yankees want him, they'll have to work quickly to get him signed.