The New York Yankees aren't sitting back and waiting for the results of Mark Teixeira's latest tests on his surgically repaired wrist. According to Jon Heyman of CBS, the Yankees have approached Kendrys Morales, who could sign as soon as Thursday evening.
Morales has been held hostage by the rules of baseball. As one of few free agents that was given a qualifying offer of $14.1 million by his former team, signing Morales would have cost his new team their first-round pick. Since the Yankees have already signed one of these players in Brian McCann, the Yankees would have to surrender their second-round pick, their highest, which would push them back from selecting 55th. Signing Morales before the draft would mean that the Yankees would not pick until 91.
However, initial reports on Teixeira's chronic wrist problem are positive. Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal reports that Teixeira got good news from the doctor and could be back as soon as Tuesday. Reports have varied on which doctors Teixeira was seeing, but sources tell me that the answer was "all of the above."
Teixeira saw not only Yankees team doctors and his surgeon, but he also called in at least one consulting surgeon for an opinion, thought to be Dr. Thomas Graham, the hand surgeon that worked on Bryce Harper's thumb among others. Wrist problems like this normally do not recur after surgery, but the structures of the wrist are very fine. Even a small problem like scar tissue or inflammation can upset the entire anatomic structure, creating pain and weakness as Teixeira has dealt with.
The worry now is that Teixeira's wrist is a chronic problem. Even with the positive reports and a possible quick return, there's no guarantee that the wrist won't act up again. Even with ace rehabber Mark Littlefield focused on Teixeira's maintenance, this episode has Girardi and his staff worried about how much Teixeira will play, let alone hit.
Manager Joe Girardi told the press Monday that he was tired of playing a man down, intimating that he would like to see Teixeira on the DL. If Teixeira is able to play quickly, I'm sure Girardi would welcome him back, especially if he gets a good look at the Scranton roster that offers little in the way of quick fixes.
Morales would not be available until Thursday at the earliest, though it is much more likely that he will need a quick trip through the minor leagues. That is what Stephen Drew did after signing late and returning to the Boston Red Sox after being trapped by the same situation.
Signing Morales would lock up the DH slot and not offer much in the way of help for first base. Morales' chronic ankle problems have limited his mobility greatly. It would also hurt the flexibility of a roster that is already inflexible and further tax a medical staff that is dealing with several players that require extensive maintenance and pregame routines.
There's also the worry that Derek Jeter, now in his final season, will need the DH slot more if his ankle becomes problematic. Jeter has already been benched more than expected in order to keep him available during his victory lap, but that taxes the roster even more.
While the Yankees aren't out of the AL East race by any means—they currently carry a 41 percent chance of making the postseason according to Clay Davenport—the addition of another solid bat has to be tempting for a team like the Yankees.
There's one other piece of timing that needs to be mentioned, and that is the 90-day elimination period that is in place on Mark Teixeira's insurance. The Yankees would have to wait that 90 days before they would be able to collect any money to alleviate the cost of Teixeira's absence. The clock restarts if Teixeira plays even one game, so they will need to have some comfort level with his wrist before putting him in the lineup.
With the return of Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, who is currently trying to avoid surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow, the Yankees wouldn't need Morales. That would leave several other teams, including the Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and the inevitable "mystery team" that comes with a Scott Boras signing. A decision will likely be made shortly and the wait over for Morales just after the Houston Astros make their pick Thursday evening.
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