4 Unsigned Players Who Could Be on New York Yankees' Radar
There is a serious lack of buzz coming from the Bronx with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
But there are still some free agents on the market who could contribute to the New York Yankees’ defense of their American League East division title in 2013.
Here are four other unsigned players who might be on the Yankees’ radar.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that that ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews was reporting free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston had narrowed his choices down to two teams: His former team, the New York Mets, or the New York Yankees.
However, the New York Post’s Mike Puma reported last week that Hairston’s two-year, $8 million asking price was rejected by the Mets, who are believed to have countered with a one-year, $2 million deal.
Hairston earned $1.1 million with the Mets in 2012 and hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 homers and 57 RBI in 398 plate appearances.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden tweeted last week that Hairston was expected to make a decision by the end of the week, but that has come and gone with Hairston still unsigned. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted last week that the Yankees weren’t involved in the Hairston talks, but the Yankees have a history of playing potential personnel moves close to the vest.
Hairston could address the Yankees’ need for a right-handed outfield bat who could spell projected starters Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, all of whom hit from the left side of the plate.
Lee’s power has been tailing steadily since 2006, when he hit a career-high 37 home runs with the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers. Since then, his homer totals have dropped to 32, 27, 26, 24, 18 and finally to nine last season. The .483 career slugger dropped to a career-low .365 mark last season, posting a .264/.332/.365 with nine homers and 77 RBI in 615 plate appearances.
Still, Lee is a veteran hitter with 358 career home runs, and he hits right-handed. On the down side, he’s at the point in his career where he might not be a defensive option anywhere but occasionally playing left field, a position he hasn’t played since 2011 with the Astros.
Last season, Lee started 145 games at first base, 65 in Houston and 80 for Miami.
Lohse told KFNS-AM’s “ITD Morning After” show (Segment 5) earlier this month that his free agency has been quieter than he thought it would be.
“Obviously, it’s been a little slow, a little slower than anticipated,” Lohse told the St. Louis radio station. “I think the whole first-round draft pick thing is slowing things down. It’s going to eventually work itself out—it’s not like I’m going to be out of baseball. Something will happen here down the road.”
Because the Cardinals extended Lohse a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer in November, any team signing him will have to forfeit a first-round draft pick (provided it is not in the top 10) and the accompanying slot money that goes with the pick.
The Yankees have not been linked to Lohse this offseason, but have worked with Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras, in the past.
Should New York decide it’s not comfortable with either David Phelps or Ivan Nova in the starting rotation, Lohse might be available for the right price—particularly since the Yankees have already picked up two extra draft picks already when Nick Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians and Rafael Soriano went to the Washington Nationals.
There is another former Miami Marlin named Carlos who isn’t getting a whole lot of attention in free agency.
Zambrano made 20 starts and 15 relief appearances for the Marlins, posting a 7-10 record with a 4.49 ERA and unsightly 1.50 WHIP in 132.1 innings. Zambrano was once valued as the Cubs’ ace and was a three-time All-Star in Chicago, but his peripherals last season were awful.
How awful? A strikeouts-to-walks ratio that peaked at 2.35 in 2005 dipped to a career-worst 1.27 last season. His strikeouts per nine innings were just 6.5 in 2012, down from a 2006 peak of 8.8. Most troubling of all may have been the walks-per-nine figure he posted in Miami. His 5.1 mark was the second-worst of his career, just lower than the 5.2 Zambrano posted in his first full season in 2002.
Still, Zambrano is only 31, and with there being next to no interest in the big right-hander, it wouldn’t come as a complete shock if the Yankees brought him to spring training to see if he had anything at all left in the tank.
Think Freddy Garcia, only three years younger than Garcia was when New York brought him in prior to the 2011 season.
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