Fact or Fiction: The Latest on the Hottest New York Yankees Rumors

Phil WatsonCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

Fact or Fiction: The Latest on the Hottest New York Yankees Rumors

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    It’s January and it has still been one of the quietest offseasons in recent memory for the New York Yankees.

    Late last week, the Yankees did add another right-handed bat to the mix when they claimed utility man Russ Canzler off waivers from the Cleveland Indians.

    But there are still rumors out there percolating that indicate the Yankees may not be out of the mix. Here’s a look at some of that discussion.

Yankees Still in the Mix for Scott Hairston

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    ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews reported Monday that Scott Hairston will be staying in New York in 2013, and that the bidding is down to the Yankees and the Mets.

    Hairston’s agent, Casey Close, told Matthews that talks are ongoing with both teams and that Hairston is expected to decide between Queens and the Bronx in “a matter of days.”

    Hairston’s been with the Mets for two seasons and had the best year of his career in 2012. He hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 homers and 57 RBI in 398 plate appearances, and made 38 starts in right field, 37 in left field and 11 in center.

    More importantly from the Yankees’ point of view, Hairston is a right-handed hitter who hit lefties well last season. Hairston hit .286/.317/.550 with 11 homers and 30 RBI in 199 plate appearances against left-handers in 2012, compared to .239/.281/.457 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 199 plate appearances off right-handed pitching.

    Working against the Yankees is the fact Hairston would most likely be a fourth outfielder in the Bronx, backing up Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner. With the Mets, Hairston could be an everyday player but would not likely be in a position to play in the postseason for the rebuilding club.

    Verdict: Fact

Yankees Looking at Ben Francisco

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    New York Post reporter Mark Hale tweeted on Monday that five teams have expressed interest in free-agent outfielder Ben Francisco.

    The Mets and Yankees are reportedly among those five teams.

    Francisco bounced around a lot in 2012, hitting .240/.285/.385 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 207 plate appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays.

    He went to the Astros as part of the July 20 deal that sent J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon to Toronto, and then was traded to the Rays at the postseason roster deadline of Aug. 31 for a player to be named later.

    He became a free agent when he was non-tendered by Tampa Bay on Nov. 30.

    Francisco can play all three outfield positions and is a right-handed hitter. But 2010, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies, was the last time he was even remotely productive at the plate. That year, he hit .268/.327/.441 with six homers and 28 RBI in 197 plate appearances. At age 31, it’s likely Francisco is what he is.

    However, he could be a serviceable option should Scott Hairston decide to stay with the Mets.

    Verdict: Fact

Jim Thome Could DH in the Bronx

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    Jim Thome is seventh on the all-time home run list with 612, but he won’t be hitting any as a member of the New York Yankees in 2013, at least not to start the season.

    The free-agent designated hitter is 42 and split last season between the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles, hitting .252/.344/.442 with eight homers and 25 RBI in 186 plate appearances.

    He was 1-for-12 with four strikeouts in three games in the American League Division Series against the Yankees.

    Thome is a left-handed bat, and while skeptics might point out that he’s in the right demographic to join the Bronx Bombers, there’s just no place for him on the roster.

    Mark Hale of the New York Post tweeted Monday morning that there is no interest in Thome.

    Verdict: Fiction

Yankees May Bring Rafael Soriano Back to Bullpen

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    Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record tweeted Monday that the New York Yankees were contacted by agent Scott Boras about whether they would consider re-signing right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano.

    Soriano saved 42 games for the Yankees in 2012, filling in for injured closer Mariano Rivera.

    Klapisch reported that the Yankees turned down the request. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that the Yankees are more interested in getting the draft pick and draft slot cash after offering Soriano a qualifying offer last fall.

    General manager Brian Cashman said Friday that the club is not interested in any free-agent relief pitchers, according to Anthony Rieber of Newsday.

    “I cannot talk about players on the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “But I am not looking for bullpen help. I can tell you that.”

    Verdict: Fiction

Delmon Young on Yankees’ Radar

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    Even after signing Matt Diaz, the New York Yankees are still in the market for more right-handed hitting.

    But free agent Delmon Young isn’t one of those targets, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman tweeted Wednesday that New York had no interest in Young, who hit .267/.296/.411 with 18 homers and 74 RBI in 608 plate appearances for the Detroit Tigers last season.

    Of his 145 starts last season, 116 were as a designated hitter, and in 31 games in left field Young made two errors in just 38 chances.

    Verdict: Fiction

Giancarlo Stanton Could Be Headed to the Bronx

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    The Miami Marlins are not actively shopping outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but after ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden tweeted that the Marlins would listen to all offers on Stanton, it was inevitable that the New York Yankees would be linked to that discussion.

    Chad Jennings of The Journal News blogged on Wednesday that, while Stanton is an attractive target, the Yankees don’t have the type of major league-ready farmhands that would be necessary to interest Miami in a possible deal.

    Even if the Yankees could package some of their younger minor-league talent, such as Gary Sanchez, Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams, would solving the right-field question for the next several years be worth the cost? The Yankees still have age problems and contract issues at other positions, and the package necessary to bring Stanton to Yankee Stadium would gut the organization.

    Verdict: Fiction