Here we stand, entering the final week before the Major League Baseball trade deadline, and the New York Yankees are predictably looking to add to their formidable ballclub.
The Yankees do currently sit in second place in the American League East, behind the Boston Red Sox, but it's hard to pinpoint where specifically they need the most help.
The lineup has been strong but with the occasional chink (most notably A-Rod's temporary replacement at third base). The rotation has been surprisingly solid, but the "surprising" parts (read: Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia) are what make the Yankees believe they need to add a piece there.
And the bullpen, also having an overall nice year, could use some buffering, particularly as the Yankees remain unsure of what to expect from injured setup man Rafael Soriano.
On this list of the Yankees' most likely deadline additions, you won't find Felix Hernandez. You won't spot AL East rival B.J. Upton. And don't bother looking for Carlos Beltran.
Other than a couple of exceptions, the names on this list aren't marquee in nature, but that doesn't mean they couldn't be immensely helpful to the Bronx Bombers' quest to the top of the division.
Mike Adams is one of the "hot" names on the trade market this year; part of an ongoing trend of teams searching for bullpen help.
Along with teammate Heath Bell (more to come later), Adams is part of a dynamic relief tandem that is of little help to the last-place San Diego Padres.
Adams has a sparkling 1.20 ERA and a strikeout per inning in 2011.
The reason he is so low on this list is that reportedly, the Padres and Yankees are not on the same page when it comes to negotiating for the right-handed reliever. ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that a deal was unlikely because of the discrepancy between potential buyer and seller.
Still, the Yankees have found ways to buy big-name players without giving up much in return. Anyone remember the Bobby Abreu deal?
Well, I promised you one big name, at least.
The biggest snag in the Yankees' attempted acquisition of Jimenez is probably the Colorado Rockies' willingness to trade him.
Looking at ESPN baseball analysts on Twitter again, a Rockies official told Jayson Stark that the team never originally intended to trade the ace starting pitcher.
Of course, that doesn't mean he won't be moved, but the return package would have to be pretty significant.
The Yankees have pieces that Colorado would want, including highly touted catching prospect Jesus Montero and 20-year-old lefty Manny Banuelos. It doesn't appear that the Yankees would want to give up both of those names for Jimenez (or in general), especially as the latter has struggled this season.
Jimenez is 6-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 2011.
There's that man again.
The Yankees, along with several other teams, are interested in the lights-out closer, but there are a few questionable factors standing in the way.
The most notable concern is if Heath Bell wants to go somewhere where he won't be able to close. To be fair, he has outwardly said he would be willing to set up for a team already complete with a closer.
But that says nothing about having the choice between pitching the eighth inning and the ninth.
Some teams, like the St. Louis Cardinals, have a clear need for a closer. That also may translate into the Cardinals offering more to the Padres, simply out of greater necessity.
Another snag in this plan for the Yankees is their surplus of eighth-inning men.
While that sounds like a brilliant problem to have (and it probably is), the team already has an issue of what to do when Rafael Soriano comes back from the disabled list. David Robertson, normally the seventh inning man, has been superb in Soriano's absence, and it is unclear if Girardi will keep him in that role when Soriano returns.
Add Bell to that mix, and things get downright confusing.
Ubaldo Jimenez isn't the only player to have come up in trade discussions between the Yankees and Colorado Rockies.
Ty Wigginton, long-time utilityman and serviceable right-handed slugger, could be of use in pinstripes. Since third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been on the shelf after hip surgery, the Yankees have had a noticeable gap in their lineup.
Eduardo Nunez has been OK, though his 13 infield errors are disconcerting. Eric Chavez should be returning soon from his foot injury, and although he played well for the Yankees before he got hurt, his injury history should put doubts into everyone's mind.
The Yankees are also already a left-heavy lineup, so dealing for Wigginton could be beneficial.
It might end up being a matter of how great a need the Yankees feel they have, with possibly only another month without A-Rod.
Unfortunately for potential buyers like the Yankees, the Astros apparently want as much for Rodriguez as the Rockies are asking for Ubaldo Jimenez.
If that remains the case, then the Yankees will probably not remain interested. After all, if they were willing to give up that much, they'd concentrate their efforts towards acquiring the Rockies' ace.
However, the Astros, given their dismal outlook, could easily lower these demands, especially if the Rockies do end up dealing Jimenez for less than they're aiming for right now.
The Yankees would love another southpaw in the rotation. C.C. Sabathia has been terrific, but there are a lot of left-handed sluggers in the American League East that the Yankees' primarily right-handed rotation has to contend with.
If the Yankees can't get a left-handed starter, they'd settle for a righty, too, especially one under the favor of manager Joe Girardi.
Ricky Nolasco pitched for Girardi when the latter was the manager of the Florida Marlins. Reuniting the two wouldn't be a bad idea, even if Nolasco only went 11-11 in the lone season he had under the now-Yankees skipper.
If the Marlins do trade Nolasco, it would likely be as part of the preparation for their move into their new stadium. They want to clear salary space in order to lure free agents to Miami.
The Yankees, while having been blessed with the pleasantly surprising Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, would likely welcome insurance in case those two regress back to expectations.
With offseason acquisition Pedro Feliciano yet to throw a pitch this season and Damaso Marte injured—again—the Yankees are looking for another southpaw in the bullpen to help out Boone Logan.
Logan started out the year shakily and has only recently committed to actually doing his job: getting out left-handed batters.
Craig Breslow is one of many A's that may be dealt, as Oakland faces a long and probably insurmountable climb to reach the first-place Texas Rangers. He isn't having a spectacular year, but he sports a 3.28 ERA.
It's worth mentioning that other teams, including the Boston Red Sox, have shown interest in Breslow.
Anyone remember the last time Randy Choate pitched for the Yankees?
Well, it wasn't particularly impressive; Choate, over four seasons, had a 4.43 ERA out of the Yankees' bullpen.
Still, seven years later, the Yankees could use a left-handed reliever, and Choate appears to be on the Marlins' ever-present trading block.
Given that Choate is 35 years old, his price tag may be a bit lower than the other relievers out there. He has had an impressive season, yielding only three earned runs in 20.1 innings pitched.
Speaking of former New York Yankees, let's welcome Tyler Clippard into the discussion.
Clippard had a short tenure with the Yankees, at least in the majors. After he was drafted in 2003, Clippard spent four years in the minor leagues before being called up in May of 2007. He pitched only six games for the Bronx Bombers before being traded to the Washington Nationals for pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo.
He has blossomed in Washington, being named to his first All-Star game this season and earning the win for the National League. After being converted into a reliever, Clippard has not had an ERA over 3.07 and won 11 games out of the bullpen last year.
The Yankees would surely welcome him back, even if he isn't the left-handed reliever they're pining for. Combined with David Robertson and Rafael Soriano (assuming he's effective when he's healthy), the New York bullpen would have its most stellar bridge leading to Mariano Rivera since the days of Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton.
The Nationals' asking price will likely be high, however, given Clippard's strong season. They are reportedly looking for a center fielder.
Clippard's teammate, Sean Burnett, might be the more reasonable target.
The left-handed reliever has an unfavorable 5.35 ERA, but he has held left-handed batters to a .224 batting average in 2011.
The Yankees' biggest need remains left-handed pitching, and there simply aren't too many upper-tier southpaws on the market.
New York has already been in discussions earlier this month with the Washington Nationals regarding Burnett. He has a reasonable contract, as he is signed through next year for $2.3 million with a $3.5 million club option for 2013.
In other words, chump change for the Yankees.