If the New York Yankees have a plan, it sure is one helluva secret at this point. Wednesday was a day which saw a few of the players the Yankees were apparently interested in and who made some sense to fill in the holes they currently possess fall off the free-agent board.
The Yankees had shown interest and coveted infielder Jeff Keppinger for some time. It made more sense as it became evident that Alex Rodriguez was going to miss time due to hip surgery. However, Keppinger was able to nail down a three-year, $12 million contract with the Chicago White Sox. It is unclear if the Yankees made an offer or not. Some reports say they did and others say they did not. Keppinger was wary of the role he would take on once A-Rod returned and felt his playing time would be more plentiful in Chicago.
At that point, the Yankees still had the option of signing Eric Chavez, who played for the Yankees the last two seasons, as one-half of a platoon at the third. Well, he too moved on, taking a $3 million deal for one season in Arizona. Once again it seems that the Yankees failed to make a bid for a player they could have used and whose contract matched their desired payroll structure.
All of this negotiating without making offers only makes sense if the Yankees have something brewing which is better than the options they are passing up. Remember, they did basically the same thing with Russell Martin, though the financial commitment there made it easier to see the Yankees standpoint of holding back.
After Chavez bolted, the Yankees continued to be linked to Kevin Youkilis, Jack Hannahan and then Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is a new addition to the mix. Some Yankees fans will remember the bombs that Reynolds hit for the Baltimore Orioles last season at Yankee Stadium. He does possess very good right-handed power, which the Yankees desperately need, but he’s a strikeout machine and he’s abysmal at third base. He could cost more on the field than he delivers with the bat.
Around midday, we learned that the Yankees had interest in outfielder Nate Schierholtz as a possibility for one side of a right field platoon. Schierholtz is a career bench guy who hits right-handed pitching pretty well and stinks against lefties. No matter, the 28-year-old is headed to the Chicago Cubs for one season at $2.25 million.
As for the rest of the day, there was speculation of a Curtis Granderson deal as the Yankees have made it known they will listen to offers on the outfielder. The Philadelphia Phillies are said to have him on a list of five potential center fielders. The Phillies can easily afford his salary and could also provide him an extension, something they would want to be assured of unless the Yankees were going to be pitching in cash, which doesn’t make sense to me. Granderson is in the final year of his contract with the Bombers and will be making $15 million. Something big would have to follow a Granderson departure to replace his run production (84 home runs the last two seasons).
Raul Ibanez is still very much a part of the Yankees plans, but he is also being pursued aggressively by the Seattle Mariners. Ibanez played 10 seasons in Seattle in two separate stints. Could he be the next player to spurn the Yanks?
At this rate the Yankees could leave Nashville with no answers and only more questions. They seem to be on the ropes, held back by the $189 competitive balance threshold for next season and the immense contracts they currently maintain. They’ll have time to make moves after the Winter Meetings conclude, but the board keeps shrinking and as of now the Yankees are left with only two-thirds of their starting lineup on the roster.