Friday was by far the most productive day of the week for the New York Yankees insofar as actual signings, unfortunately this one was never in doubt. The Bombers signed outfielder Brett Gardner to a one-year deal worth $2.85 million avoiding arbitration.
Gardner played in just 16 games this season after prolonged time suffering from a right elbow strain that eventually required arthroscopic surgery. He tried to come back multiple times during the season only to have setbacks. He eventually returned in late September and found himself the Yankees postseason roster.
Gardner is a key component to the team for 2013; as the Yankees will be deciding whether it is now his time to be moved to center field and shift Curtis Granderson to left. The Yankees missed Gardner’s speed and ability to create runs anytime he reached base without having to rely on the home run.
If anything good comes of the missed 2012 season for Gardner as far as the Yankees are concerned it is that he received a very minimal increase in salary. He’ll be paid just $50,000 more than his 2012 salary. For the now empty wallet Yankees, every bit of change helps.
Hamilton Rumors Swirl
Finally a juicy nugget surfaced Friday morning which suggested that there were back office discussions being conducted by Yankees brass about free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, 32, is waiting for the Texas Rangers to make up their mind about free agent pitcher Zack Greinke. If the Rangers sign Greinke they will likely be unable to also secure Hamilton. If the Los Angeles Dodgers snag Greinke, then the Rangers may give Hamilton an offer to retain his services.
The Yankees have for better or worse stayed true to their word of being cautious in the market, especially where is concerns lengthy and lucrative contracts, which Hamilton is in store for. Various reports suggest Hamilton is going to get anywhere from 3-5 years worth an average annual value of $25 million. This is something the Yankees would have no desire in if they are serious about staying under the competitive balance tax threshold in 2014.
However, the Yankees could change course and bid on Hamilton if the Rangers sign Greinke. They’d have to consider some options to go along with a Hamilton signing; moving Granderson, not extending Robinson Cano, sign Cano too and penny pinch for the remainder of the roster or just abscond with the idea of staying below the threshold altogether.
Hamilton is a long shot in my view because of the many scenarios that would need to follow. In addition, no one knows if Hamilton wants to play in New York or if the Yankees are truly considering him in pinstripes. If anything it’s fun to entertain the notion of the Yankees getting into the mix with a big-time free agent after watching them interact with lesser names only to watch them get swept up by other teams during the Winter Meetings.
Nix clears waivers
Jayson Nix cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Nix was signed to a one-year, $900K contract shortly before being designated for assignment. Nix will likely compete for a utility role in Spring Training.