Despite the lackluster free-agent class this offseason, most Yankee fans foresaw a more active winter from the front office. Outside of “taking care of their own” and bidding on a Japanese shortstop, the Bombers have been quite mum on adding personnel.
At the same time, the club won 97 games last year in the American League East. Let’s also not forget that they were one clutch hit away from appearing in the ALCS.
As significant free agents are disappearing the way of the Dodo, there appears to be a few left on the endangered list that could fit in with the Yanks. If the stars align and the money is right, these players could end up in pinstripes for 2012.
After not being offered arbitration by the White Sox, outfielder Juan Pierre is a now free agent and looking for a home.
Although he is coming off a year in which he stole the fewest bases since his rookie year (27), he is still a tremendous set of legs on the basepaths. His amazing speed also translates into the exceptional fielder he has become in his 12 years in the majors.
The Yankees might shy away from Pierre as they already have the younger and better version of his mold in Brett Gardner. However, at the age of 34, he might be more predisposed to accept a more reserved role coming off the bench.
Moving around appears to be his modus operandi, as he has played for five teams in the past 10 years. After playing in the two of the three most populated cities in the country in Chicago and L.A., is he ready to try on number one for size?
After being traded from the Rays to the Angels in 2009, Scott Kazmir’s professional life has been a house of horrors. After pitching to the tune of a 65-53 record with the fledgling Rays, he has managed to post an 11-17 record since his doomed departure.
Additionally, after the trade, dogging shoulder issues have become long and painful disabled stints.
A once promising career was eventually relegated to the Angels Triple-A team, where he garnered an ERA of 17.02 in five starts. The injuries and inconsistency resulted in his eventual release by the Angels last year, even with $14.5 million guaranteed left on his contract.
Being only 27 years old and a left-handed pitcher means the world, regardless of your injury history. The Yankees have zero to lose by inquiring about Kazmir and offering a minor league deal. After experiencing success with Colon and Garcia in the same scenario, what’s holding them back from Kazmir?
If the Yankees are so inclined to keep last year’s team intact this winter, then why not take another shot at Bartolo Colon?
After missing all of 2010, the team signed Colon to a minor league deal hoping to catch lighting in a bottle. For a majority of the season, Colon outperformed anyone’s expectations.
Even after losing five of his last eight starts in 2011, the plump right-hander managed a 4.00 ERA with 164 innings pitched.
While his age (39) and body (5’11’’, 265 lbs) remain as issues, Colon could once again fill an available gap in a starting rotation that is littered with uncertainty.
When the Yankees want something, they usually get it. So, when they claimed Carlos Pena off of waivers last year, it was clear they saw a prize that was within their reach. If they want to channel their inner Wayne Campbell, then taking a look at the power-hitting first baseman is a top priority.
Obviously, the Yanks and Cubs couldn’t work out a deal last year to bring Pena to the Big Apple, but now the 33-year-old lefty is a free agent.
Time for the Yankees to pounce.
We all know Pena is a double-edged sword with the bat in his hand. His 258 career HR are sometimes overshadowed by a .239 BA and 1,292 SO’s in his 11 seasons.
Perhaps the Yankees want to ignore the “bad” with Pena, and instead dream of dinger after dinger floating over the right field stands.
Hey, it could happen.
After taking the “El” out of Chicago, Jon Garland has struggled to replicate the success he had with the White Sox. After leaving the South Side, Garland has gone 51-51 in his last four seasons.
After being sidelined for the remainder of the season in June last year, the 32-year-old righty is out to prove his shoulder issues are behind him.
Coming off of years full of failed expectations, Garland could present himself as a cheap option for the Yankees. If the Yankees can’t sign their first picks like Kuroda or Oswalt, Garland might present a feasible alternative.
Will he be back in a “New York Groove”?
With questions on the bench, why should the Yankees not take a peek at Johnny Damon? He is only 277 career hits away from 3000 and is looking for the biggest stage to reach that mark.
What better stage than River Ave?
In addition to being a good clubhouse guy, his speed and still lethal bat can provide some much needed pop at DH or off the bench. Even at 38 years old, in 2011 he was able to swipe 19 bags and popped 16 HRs.
Lately, it appears as if Damon is more than willing to accept one-year deals to further his pursuit of 3000. Will he sign for another year in pinstripes?
After wanting to sign with the Yankees as a free agent after the 2004 season, Carlos Beltran has one more shot to suit up in the Bronx. The 34-year-old outfielder got out of Flushing last year, but would love a return trip to Nueva York, but in a different borough.
However, even given Beltran’s previous infatuation with the Yanks, its unlikely he will be playing in the Bronx next year. After picking up Nick Swisher’s option, it's possible they could try and work out a trade to make room for Beltran.
With that being said, it appears as if numerous National League teams are interested in Beltran. Yet, one has to wonder what it would be like if Beltran were able to play for the New York team he wanted to all along.
It looks like we’ll never know.
After taking the 2011 MLB free agent YouTube market by storm a few months ago and then disappearing back into obscurity, it appeared as if Yoennis Cespedes’ talents were as authentic as Sidd Finch’s 168 mph fastball.
However, he has been busy taking care of establishing his new Dominican citizenship to be eligible for MLB free agency. After the legal paperwork is signed in the next few weeks, the major league courting will begin in early January for the 26-year-old outfielder.
Or has it already begun?
In a newly released second video, Cespedes poses for pictures with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and manager Ozzie Guillen, Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan and a “supposed” private workout with the Cubs.
In the case of the Yankees, they have picked up the option on Nick Swisher in right field, so it looks as if the outfield is complete. However, these are the Yankees.
Knowing the Yankees like big names who can excel under pressure (hey, he played under the microscope of Fidel Castro), don’t be surprised if they add him to the lineup if the dollars make sense.
Mentioning Roy Oswalt’s name as a possible pickup is enough to make Yankee fans everywhere sigh and roll their eyes.
However, if the Yankees could get the oft-injured right hander to come down on his rumored three-year, $20 million price tag, he might work in the Bombers' rotation. His stints on the disabled list raise red flags, though.
Coming off the three worst years in his major league career, Oswalt is looking to rebound on his most recent malfunctions. With two degenerative discs in his back that have never been operated on, the new start could never begin in the Bronx.
With their painful recent history of injured and underachieving pitchers, the Yankees might be wary of adding a disaster to the rotation of question marks.
Yet, the more the offseason dwindles, so will Oswalt’s contract price. When Oswalt comes back to earth and realizes he is no longer the pitcher he once was, the Yankees might be there meet him at the bargaining table.
After exercising his no-trade clause option at last year’s deadline, Hiroki Kuroda explained the move as his obligation and loyalty to his Dodger contract. Apparently, when the contract ends, so does the loyalty component to the employer.
The 36-year-old right-handed starter is making his rounds and plenty of teams want to mingle. After having repeatedly denied to be interested in Kuroda, Jon Heyman of Cbssports.com and Sports Illustrated reported on Thursday that the “Yanks seem to like Kuroda best.”
Although he has only pitched in the states for four years, Kuroda has made the best of his time here. While his 41-46 record with the underachieving Dodgers doesn’t exactly light the world on fire, his other intangibles make him quite appealing.
Pitching nearly 200 innings in his three of his four years with a career ERA of 3.45 is quite exceptional for a man who is rapidly approaching “over the hill” status.
With that being said, his age could be a question mark. When baseball begins in April, Kuroda will be 37 years young.
If the Yankees land the Osaka native, don’t look for more than a two-year handshake.