Last season, the Yankees DH role was handled mostly by Hideki Matsui. Some other players like Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada used the spot as an opportunity to get a half day or rest but still be in the lineup. Rodriguez is fully healthy and should be able to handle full time third base duty, Posada will likely DH a little bit but he is still the main catcher, Damon remains an unsigned free agent, and Matsui is now a member of the Angels. So who will DH for the Yankees this season? Lets take a look at some of the most probable choices.
The Yankees view Damon as a part time DH, while still seeing time in left field. He is definitely one of the best top of the lineup hitters in the game. Damon used Yankee stadium to his advantage last season while hitting from the #2 spot in the Yankees lineup. He hit .282 last season including 24 home runs and driving in 82. He also stole 12 bases without being thrown out. Another key stat is Damon struck out just 98 times in 550 at bats. I think the Yankees would love to re-sign Damon, but on their terms. Damon and his agent, Scott Boras dont seem to agree. The Yankees dont want him for more then two years and $20 million. Damon is still seeking three years at $13 million a year. If the Yankees can get their way, I would sign Damon in a heartbeat, but I have to agree that Damon's asking price is a little to steep right now.
Miranda would be an in house answer for the DH spot. Like Damon, Miranda is a left handed hitter that would benefit from Yankee Stadium's short right field fence. Last season in Triple-A, Miranda hit .290 with 19 home runs and 82 RBI's. As a September call up to the big leagues, he had 3 hits in 9 at bats including his first career home run. The problem with Miranda is that he is still prone to striking out. In those 9 major league at bats, Miranda struck out 4 times. He also struck out 101 times in 122 Triple-A games. Miranda is currently playing Winter Ball and batting .425 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI's in 11 games, totaling 40 at bats.
The former Yankee first baseman has been injury prone throughout his career. Being more of a full time DH may help him in that department. When he was in New York, he was a fan favorite. Johnson is a career .273 hitter including .292 against left handed pitching. He is known around the league as an on base machine. Last season he had the highest OBP of all of this years free agents (.426) and his career OBP is .402. The Yankees and Johnson have been discussing a one year deal lately. The Yankees 1996 third round draft pick made $5.5 million last season. I like this idea, especially if the Yankees can sign him to an incentive based one year contract. I think he would be very productive as a DH in Yankee Stadium.
Dye is still a free agent. Last season with the White Sox, Dye hit .250 with 27 home runs and 81 RBI's. The 27 home runs was his lowest total since 2004. Dye hits right handed, which may keep the Yankees away since they already have a right handed power guy in Alex Rodriguez. Dye struggled in the second half of last season. He hit .302 with 20 home runs before the all star break, but just .179 with 7 home runs after. He did crush left handed pitching last season however. Against south paws in 2009, Dye hit .292 with 7 home runs. His power comes against righties however, as he hit .236 with 20 home runs against them.
My guess is Damon would be the Yankees top choice at DH, but like I said, it would have to be on their terms. Damon does not seem to be ok with that. The Yankees may be moving away from Damon and toward Nick Johnson at this time. Miranda is probably their third choice if Damon and Johnson dont work out. One thing is certain, they will miss Hideki Matsui's clutch bat.