New York Yankees: Hunter Pence and the 5 Bats That the Franchise Should Pursue

Joseph Browne@jbrownesportsNYCorrespondent IIJuly 29, 2011

New York Yankees: Hunter Pence and the 5 Bats That the Franchise Should Pursue

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    As far back as the end of the 2010 MLB season, not five minutes has passed without the baseball world talking about how badly the Yankees need to bolster their rotation.

    The talk is understandable, of course, as even today, after all the noise and for various reasons, the Yankees can count on one finger the number of completely reliable starters on their staff.

    With that said, as things stand now, the Yankees will head into camp next spring with somewhere in the range of eight young starters from their system competing for two, possibly three open slots in the rotation.

    Additionally, there will be a number of good, back-of-the-rotation free-agent options available in the offseason as well.

    These realities lead to a simple conclusion: The Yankees, even at the expense of some of their young power arms, must focus on bringing in a bat to supplement an aging lineup that is maybe two years away from being an afterthought in the American League East.

    Here, then, are five bats that the Yankees should aggressively pursue

Matt Kemp

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    Kemp is soon to be 27 years old, a true five-tool player, and just coming into his big years.

    Due to uncertain Dodgers ownership status, offering up top-hitting prospects Jesus Montero and Slade Heathcott, in addition to a top-tier pitching prospect and a second-tier pitching prospect, could land this very big fish.

    He hits free agency after 2012 season and the Dodgers may not be able to make the huge investment to keep him.

    Put him in RF and the Yankees would have three CF-types manning the outfield.

Prince Fielder

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    A free agent to be, in his prime, Fielder could hit 25-30 HRs in Yankees home games alone.

    He has said he would accept a DH role, but could obviously spell Mark Teixeira at first base quite capably.

    The Yankees are jettisoning $13 million worth of salary in Jorge Posada and they could lose another $10 million if they forgo the option on Nick Swisher.

    That makes the 2012 payroll a bit more palatable, but the following years would be impacted greatly.

Andre Ethier

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    A nice bat, Ethier would slot in nicely in several spots throughout Yankees order, and he could see his power production increase playing in Yankee Stadium.

    He is still young and it would take a smaller package to pry him away from the Dodgers than it would for Matt Kemp.

    His contract ends after 2012, and Dodgers bankruptcy proceedings could make him prohibitive to Los Angeles/MLB ownership.

Hunter Pence

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    Pence is only signed through this year and doesn't have the career statistics that would warrant a huge contract by Yankee standards.

    He is young, good defensively and could slot into lineup right behind Robinson Cano (or soon to be Mark Teixeira) in the five spot.

    By no means would trading for him now bankrupt the Yankees system of talent.

Jesus Montero

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    OK, the Yankees don't have to "pursue" this particular bat as the big catcher is already in their system.

    After the 2011 season ends, though, it is defecate or get off the bowl time on this kid.

    Independent scouts project him to be a .300 hitter with 30-plus HR power the moment his name is penciled into a major-league roster.

    If he isn't used as a trade chip then the Yankees simply must give him his shot.

    If he can't catch so be it... there's virtually no doubt that he can hit and the Yankees will need his pop badly from 2012 on.

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