As the trade deadline approaches, Yankeeland is all in a tizzy about the possible top-o-the-line starting pitching headed to the Bronx.
And while pitching IS the most important thing for the Bombers to go after, there are also a few position players that could be helpful down the stretch at a price that probably won't cost an arm and a Montero.
(don't worry, I source checked. Contrary to popular belief, not everything written on the interwebz is true. I know, I know, I was shocked too. I'm also shocked that this parenthesis thought is still going on. Maybe I should start the article?)
Let me just clarify something right here. When I say, "price that won't cost an arm and a Montero" I mean that quite literally. The nice thing about the Yankees is that even when the prospect package for a major player isn't there, there's always the option of taking other teams' bad contracts off their hands as payment.
ESPN reported a few days ago that the Yankees were one of the most likely suitors for Ramirez, who is owed roughly $7 million for the rest of 2011, with a $2 million buyout at seasons end (or a $16 million club and player option that only a team with a propensity for bad contracts--- like the Cubs--- would pick up).
Beyond the economics however, this deal doesn't really make sense for either side. Sure, the Yankees can plug Ramirez in at 3rd while A-Rod rehabs, but when Rodriguez comes back, then what? Split the 3rd base/DH-ing duties between the two and Old Yeller Posada? (Yes, Old Yeller is a verb there).For a team that constantly wrestles with giving older player more DH time, adding another DH isn't really a keen idea.
Ramirez has also positioned himself as the best third base bat on the market, which can probably command at least a couple of solid pieces from a team in contention, especially if Chicago throws some money in to sweeten the pot. Once the Cubs ask for anything of substance in return for Aramis, the Yankees need to step away.
Beltran's attractiveness to the Yankees, much like Ramirez's, is predicated on the deal being a salary dump. The Mets have said they'll assume some of the money that remains on Beltran's contract if it makes him more attractive to potential suitors, but for a Yankees team not looking to mortgage the future for anything less than a stud starter, that won't mean much. In fact, it sorta hurts their, "we'll take that debt off your hands for you" pitch.
Beltran's bat is widely regarded as the best available at any position, so he should command a decent return in prospects despite the injury concerns. The Yankees could slide him into either corner outfield spot and see better production than they've been getting there, but again it'll clog up the DH spot on certain days and lead to a starter (probably Swisher) undeservedly losing playing time.
As ESPN noted, Damon could be an attractive bat for the Yankees as a fourth outfielder/DH/Utility 1st base type. His presence as a fourth outfielder rather than everyday bat makes the DH clog more bearable, unless he isn't able to play the field at all, which means his presence would be the biggest DH issue of them all.
Damon is much less of a pipe dream than either Beltran or Ramirez in one regard, but not another. Yes, he's only due around $2 million more for 2011 and his production (or lack there of) would indicate the Rays won't ask for much of a hall in return. Of course, the Yankees and Rays are both fighting for the AL East, so why would either team help the other out?
Wigginton makes the most sense for the Yankees; he can play third with A-Rod out, spell the other infielders and corner outfielders certain days, has a little bit of pop and won't cost much in either prospects or money.
Wigginton's atrocious on-base percentage won't be quite the detractor for a team like the Yankees, who wouldn't ever use him as a regular anyway. The Rockies need to decide whether they're going to be sellers or they're going to hold on and hope for another one of those second half surges they've become known for.