The Yankees are up to their old ways. Money seems to be no object.
After locking up Jacoby Ellsbury for seven years and $153 million and Carlos Beltran for three years and $45 million, the Bronx Bombers have more outfielders than they know what to do with.
While they’ve certainly been exploring trade possibilities, there have been no takers at this point. If no trade were agreed upon, the Yankees would easily have the most expensive six-man outfield/designated hitter combo in baseball history.
As it stands now, Ellsbury will be the team’s starting center fielder, and Beltran will start in right. After that, the Yankees have a few options.
Ideally, the team would be wise to start Brett Gardner in left field for his defense and speed. He’d be the ideal No. 9 hitter in this potent lineup. Then, defensively-challenged Alfonso Soriano would be the team’s primary DH.
It all sounds perfect, right? Well, the problem is that Vernon Wells and Ichiro are still on this roster. Wells is due to earn $21 million in 2014, while Ichiro will make a more manageable $6.5 million.
Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has probably been on the phone left and right to try to move either of these players. However, no one wants to take on diminishing talent, even if the Yanks are willing to eat the bulk of the money value.
At least Ichiro still has some value. Not that Beltran is a bad defender, but Ichiro could spell Beltran defensively late in games. He could also be a valuable pinch hitter or pinch runner in a big spot.
Wells still has a decent amount of pop, but he’s really only a DH at this point. Soriano and Wells are very similar in that they can hit some homers but are so one-dimensional. There really isn’t room on a roster for two of this type of player.
And the elephant in the room here is Alex Rodriguez. We still don’t know what’s going to happen with his suspension, but if he is on the team, the Yankees owe him $25 million for 2014. He was play third base, but he too is likely best served as a DH.
If A-Rod does wind up serving the suspension, the Yankees could go with Kelly Johnson at third base or even sign Stephen Drew for third, and then the switch-hitting but oft-injured Brian Roberts would play second.
In a surprising move, the Yankees reportedly turned down an offer from the Cincinnati Reds of Brandon Phillips for Gardner. Phillips is reportedly seeking a trade, and he’d be the perfect fit in the Bronx to replace Robinson Cano.
But apparently the Yankees still value Gardner enough to want to keep him around. Wells, Ichiro and likely Soriano will be gone after 2014, the same year that Gardner will be a free agent. Keeping him in the mix this year would maybe help the team bring him back for 2015.
If the Yankees played in the NL, a trade for one if not two of those outfielders would have likely occurred, since NL teams need more flexibility. But with the DH in AL, keeping these players could work.
With all the Yankees’ offensive weapons, it will be up to Joe Girardi to keep everyone fresh. He has the ability to spell guys like Mark Teixeira or Soriano and not lose too much offensively.
But even so, Cashman will still be on the phone trying to move an outfielder, likely right up until Opening Day.
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