Today's trade of Melky Cabrera for Javier Vazquez solidifies the rotation but opens the door for more moves in the Yankee outfield. Most predict that the Yankees will now be in play for a marquee left fielder.
Make no mistake; the Yankees will keep tabs on the contract discussions for both Jason Bay and Matt Holliday if for no reason but to ensure that whoever signs these players have paid a high price. The Yankees can overcome mistakes at high dollar points. Few teams can cope with high priced mistakes.
It is my belief that the Yankees' best moves are via the trade market. Here are two moves that the Yankees should consider in remaking their outfield:
Conor Jackson, 27, Left Field
Jackson is coming off an injury-plagued 2009 season where he was limited to just 30 games played. This has lowered his value. His three full seasons in the majors have been productive with an average line of .291/.370 /.444. He is entering his prime, he's cheap, and he can play multiple positions (LF, 1B).
Given that the Diamondbacks don't have a position for Jackson and he's ready for his arbitration years, the cost in terms of prospects should be low. A nice low risk, medium to high reward type of deal. This is how the Yankees acquired Nick Swisher a year ago.
Matt Kemp, 25, Center Field
The Dodgers' ownership situation has paralyzed the organization. This gives the Yankees an opportunity to make the boldest move of the offseason. Matt Kemp is an established five-tool player and is exactly the type of talent that the Yankees should be looking to acquire when making a move.
The cost would be high in the form of either SP Hughes or Chamberlain plus a top prospect like Montero. If I were GM, I make this trade.
Many would decry a trade like this as the Yankees abandoning their principals and going back to trading away their prospects. I don't see it that way. A proven 25-year-old player entering his prime is the right way to use your prospects.
Many would also claim that the Yankees would weaken the bullpen by trading Hughes or Chamberlain. Either would have been the primary gateway to Rivera. I say look at the defensive upgrade with Granderson in left field and Kemp in center. This helps every pitcher on the roster. I would also point out that Hughes was not the eighth inning bridge until the All-Star game. This is a position in a constant state of flux and the best relievers in August will wind up with that role.
Lastly, I look at the lineup that the trades would produce. The outfielders (Granderson, Swisher, Gardner, Jackson, and Kemp) would all be batting in the lower half of the lineup. Think about that for a moment. The Yankees could potentially have 70 to 80 home runs from their seven to nine placed hitters assuming that Nick Johnson slides into the No. 2 spot as the DH. Insane.
The Red Sox and the rest of the American League should be very scared.