The Yankees have reached the point this winter where they’re searching for one last piece. Not a major piece but rather a complementary one, an outfielder who can provide an alternative, if need be, to Brett Gardner. With just 41 days left until pitchers and catchers, the Yankees can take their time and let the market develop — and perhaps let Johnny Damon’s asking price fall into their range. But, until then, we’ll continue to speculate.
For the most part we’ve focused on free agent acquisitions, mainly because we’ve discussed trade options and haven’t found much. But things change as Spring Training nears. The Yankees acquired Javy Vazquez, and now might trade one of their pitchers. Does that open up any new possibilities?
While it’s possible that the Yankees could trade Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin to a second-tier team for outfield fodder, but if they want to do so they’ll have to be patient. A number of starting pitchers remain on the free agent market — including Jarrod Washburn, Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland, and Doug Davis — who are similar to the Yankees’ duo. As we near Spring Training and their prices come down, they’ll begin to fill out team’s rotations. Unless a number of them continue holding out for more money, Gaudin and Mitre will probably remain fallback options.
The one scenario where the Yankees could unload Mitre is in a salary dump. The problem there lies in finding a team that matches up. How many teams would trade a moderately priced outfielder for Mitre? What if they added a fringy prospect to go along with the fringy starter? When discussing plans for the outfield, Brian Cashman said, “It might not just be a free agent. It could Come via trade.” Unless the Yankees plan to deal prospects and not one of their surplus pitchers, I’m not sure there’s an obvious match.
As the Yankees continue to wait, we’ll continue to wonder. From everything Cashman has said lately, the team does seek a right-handed outfield bat. Tired as the subject has gotten, it’s the last item left on the team’s agenda. They’re taking their time, as they should. It’s best at this point to wait for the right player, not the easiest to acquire.