Four who may fit the Yankees' outfield

12/27/2012 9:40 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Would a return to New York benefit both Juan Rivera and the Yankees in 2013?(AP)
The Yankees signed former Braves outfielder Matt Diaz to a Minor League deal on Wednesday, but as the calendar gets set to turn to 2013, the Yankees may still be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder; however, with Nick Swisher off to Cleveland and Cody Ross signing with the Diamondbacks, that market seems to be a very thin one.

The latter signing has once again fueled speculation that Arizona may trade Justin Upton, and there are likely a few more trade candidates out there (like, perhaps, Vernon Wells?) for the right price. In addition, Scott Hairston, who posted a .263-20-57 line in 134 games for the Mets last year, is still the popular name on the free agent wish list, as he crushed lefty pitching (.286-11-30 in 199 plate appearances) but was also good enough against righties (.239-9-27 in 199 PA) to be a semi-regular.

However, the trade market is uncertain, and even though Hairston is still available, it’s been reported that he would prefer a multi-year deal to stay in Queens, where he would likely be an everyday player in 2013 – so, with that said and few if any viable in-house alternatives, the Yankees may have to “take a chance” like they did on Raul Ibanez in 2012 and Andruw Jones in 2011.

With that in mind, here are, in no particular order, a handful of players still available that could both fit the Yankees’ financial plans and their outfield in 2013. Each has some cons, but also has some potential pros that, at the right price, could make them a low-risk, high-reward signing.

Delmon Young
Of the righty outfielders left on the market besides Hairston, Young is the most powerful and/or productive; he hit .267 with 18 homers for the Tigers in 2012, and is just a couple years removed from a .298-21-112 season in Minnesota that propelled him to a Top 10 finish in the 2010 AL MVP voting. And, despite primarily being the DH in Detroit last season, he could be an everyday player and man either corner outfield spot on days he isn’t the designated hitter.

All that said, there are a few things that might complicate Young coming to New York; he has had some off the field issues (including an arrest in NYC last season), he is only 27 and a first-time true free agent (meaning he may be looking for a longer-term deal than the Yankees would give), and once Alex Rodriguez returns, he and/or Kevin Youkilis would likely be shunted into a semi-regular role (which may not agree with him). However, because he’s coming off a “down” season, has that off-field drama, and is coming off ankle surgery, he may just take a one-year deal to try to build his numbers and character back up to cash in once again in 2014…and with Rodriguez’s timeline for return still indefinite until at least his surgery date in January, Young could still be intrigued.

Carlos Lee
Yes, “El Caballo” had a rough 2012, hitting .264 with just nine home runs between Houston and Miami last season. And yes, he’ll also be 37 in June, and after more than a decade as a left fielder, he played nothing but first base for the Astros and Marlins last season.

However, like Raul Ibanez the year prior, Lee was still a full-time regular in 2012, and at 36/37, has come to the stage in his career where one-year deals may be best bet. Like Ichiro, he may be rejuvenated as a part-time player, and like Nick Swisher, he proved to be a very capable first baseman – which, at least until Rodriguez returns, would help keep Kevin Youkilis grounded at the hot corner on days Mark Teixeira is either out of the lineup or serving as the DH.

Juan Rivera
Rivera may be coming off the worst statistical full season of his career (.244-9-47 in 109 games for the Dodgers), but he still does have some pop, and as he was much better against lefties (.260-6-20 in 138 PA) than righties (.232-3-27 in 201 PA) last year, he’s well-built for an Andruw Jones-type role. He made just $4 million on a one-year deal last year, can play either corner, and, in the same vein as Lee, he has played plenty of first base as well. Plus, he has been a Yankee before, so he knows the New York way.

Mark DeRosa
DeRosa is a bit of a wild card, as he is going to be 38, has become injury-prone over the last few years, and has become a super-utility player to the point where he doesn’t really have a true position. However, he is a lefty masher – to the point where 36 of his 93 career HR have come off southpaws, despite only 29 percent of his career plate appearances coming vs. lefties – and because of his versatility, he could fill the same type of role that Jerry Hairston played in the latter half of 2009, so even if he were brought in on a Minor League deal, he could have value somewhere.

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