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Yankees setting table at GM meetings

11/07/2012 11:32 AM ET
By Jon Lane

The Yankees will reportedly have conversations about veteran OF Torii Hunter.(AP)
The annual General Manager meetings started this week in Indian Wells, Calif. Yankees GM Brian Cashman arrived on Tuesday without a set agenda, par for the course since these gatherings generally set the foundation for the Winter Meetings, which take place December 3-6 in Nashville. Figure on Cashman making plans based on the expected (Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher declining the team’s respective qualifying offers), the hopeful (convincing Hiroki Kuroda to stay in the Bronx for another season) and any wish list (outfield help and the always-in-demand starting pitching).

“Do I have something I'm looking to execute while I'm out here? No,”' Cashman told The Associated Press. “Whatever agents are here, I'll meet with the agents and then obviously have a chance to engage the 29 clubs. I've been with them a few times already. I think there's certain guys that I've been made aware of, but for the most part I think it will be unfolding quietly.”

The first Yankees rumor to hit the mill occurred last Thursday when The New York Daily News reported an interest in veteran outfielder Torii Hunter. Six days later, The New York Post cited a scheduled meeting between Cashman and Hunter’s agent, Larry Reynolds, this week at the GM Meetings. What makes Hunter an attractive option is the L.A. Angels not extending him a qualifying offer, which means any team signing him will not have to surrender a draft pick.

In addition, Hunter, 37, will apparently settle for a two-year deal, especially for a chance to play in a World Series this late in his career. Hunter batted .311 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs in 140 games to go with a .365 on-base percentage and a .451 slugging percentage. He moved from center to right field in August 2010 without any decline in his defensive game, and would fit right in if the Yankees decide and are able to move Curtis Granderson, while also affording more time for prospects Mason Williams and Tyler Austin to fully develop.

Other free-agent outfielders include Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton, both still in the prime of their careers and both who will likely price themselves out of the Yankees’ range. Hamilton in pinstripes is tantalizing, but also risky. He’s averaged 33 home runs and 107 RBIs over the past three seasons and turns 32 in May, but also has a checkered past and a reported price of $175 million over seven years. Former Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden penned a prediction for ESPN.com that Hamilton will receive five years and $115 million, an average value of $23 million per season from either the Milwaukee Brewers or Boston Red Sox, or from his current team, the Texas Rangers.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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