Spring training is underway and yet, there are a number of strong free agents available. The Yankees had a string of signings this offseason on both sides of the diamond. However, there is still some room for additions to help make 2014 a championship season. Who should the Yankees look at with just a few weeks before the greatest game on Earth gets started?
Kendrys Morales – The 30 year old first baseman is coming off a season in which he hit .277/23/80 in 156 games, primarily as the Seattle Mariners designated hitter. Morales is best known for breaking his leg celebrating a walk off home run in 2010 with the Angels. He was on pace to become one of the major powerhouses in baseball until that injury. He was rumored to be in talks with the Orioles, but with their signing of Nelson Cruz that is essentially out the window. He may not be a perennial 40 home run guy, but he has more than enough power to produce at Yankee stadium – especially when Mark Teixeira is still such a question mark.
Juan Pierre – At this point in his career, Pierre would serve as a pinch runner. Last year he enjoyed modest success with the Miami Marlins. His offensive numbers did not show a lot, but he had 23 stolen bases in just over 300 at bats. He knows his legs are what is keeping him in the game at this point. Because it is late February, a one year contract near the minimum should be enough to get Pierre to the Bronx.
Ervin Santana – I know what you are thinking. We just spent so much on starting pitching! Well, the last time I looked, we still are trying to figure out our fifth starter. That tells me that there is room for an Ervin Santana. As I mentioned above, players only get cheaper as we move into late February. If we had signed him in November, it probably would have been a terrible deal. Now, the numbers will at least be a bit more on the Yankees side. This would be a long shot at best, and he is one of the best free agents still available, but at the right price he would be very helpful at the back end of the rotation.
Jeff Karstens – Karstens was a member of the Yankees in 2006 and 2007. He’s spent the last five years in Pittsburgh to varying success. Last year, he was often injured, and was ultimately shut down early. He’s spent his career as a starter, but if he came over in a relief role he could be a strong, cheap option.
Oliver Perez – Aah Mr. Perez, the laughing stock of a terrible Mets team for years. Somehow, the man has turned himself into a great lefty relief pitcher in Seattle. He has done it two years in a row, leading credence to the fact that his awful Mets days are behind him. Is it an issue with playing in New York? Did he just need more time to figure himself out? Whatever the case may be, he’s a lefty and he has a pulse. The Yankees have already signed Matt Thornton to replace Boone Logan, but there is no harm in having another lefty in the pen.
These moves would bolster the Yankees bullpen, as well as give some flexibility at first base and on the base paths. After spending hundreds of millions on free agents, these less expensive options (Ervin Santana aside) could impact this year’s team very efficiently.