Potential candidates to replace Mark TeixeiraYankees likely to stay internal, but three options are free agents
As of Wednesday afternoon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team would have to “batten down the hatches and weather the storm” of Tex’s absence, and said it would explore all options -- including an acquisition or internal competition -- to replace him in the lineup.
In-house, the Yankees have a handful of options; Dan Johnson and Juan Rivera, who are in camp on Minor League deals, have experience a first base, prospect Luke Murton led the organization in home runs, and, despite Cashman’s statement that the team would prefer not to move him from third base, they do have another former Gold Glove first baseman on the roster in Kevin Youkilis.
Should the Yankees explore a trade, the market could be a tough sell, but there are surely a handful of players – even if Cashman could never mention any of them publicly – that would be available for the right price.
There is also a third option, that being for the Yankees to sign someone who is still a free agent. That player may be a bit “behind” in drills, but with more than three weeks of Spring Training left before Opening Day, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that someone, especially a veteran, could be ready for April 1 despite the lag.
So then, who could those free agent candidates be? The crop is not necessarily plentiful, but any of the three men below could potentially fit both the short- and long-term plans for the Yankees.
Lee has been mentioned in numerous YESNetwork.com speculations as a possible candidate to wear pinstripes in 2013, and he tops this list once again. While both his power and defensive ability have declined a bit, “El Caballo” is durable -- his 147 games played last year were his lowest total since 2008 -- and is just a season removed from a .275-18-94 campaign in Houston. Lee has two big advantages in that he is right-handed and could play both corner outfield spots; once Teixeira and Curtis Granderson return, he could slide into a bench role as fourth outfielder/part-time first baseman and even serve as the righty complement to Travis Hafner in a DH platoon.
Huff is coming off a tough 2012 season that saw him hit just .192 in 52 games for the Giants while dealing with the effects of panic attacks; however, Huff has undergone treatment, gotten the panic attacks under control, and says he is healthy and ready to go for 2013. He won two rings with the Giants in the last three years, and is just a season removed from a .290-26-86 line in San Francisco’s first title season, so he knows what winning culture looks like.
Huff is a lefty, which may hurt his chances on paper, but he can play first base or either corner outfield spot and does have experience, albeit none since 2008, at third base; should he come aboard and then stick around, those attributes could basically give Huff a best-case scenario of being a more versatile version of Eric Chavez.
Wild Card: Scott Rolen
As mentioned already, Cashman seems less inclined to solve the first base conundrum by moving Kevin Youkilis across the diamond and searching for someone to man the hot corner temporarily. However, if he changes his mind, Rolen could be a good choice.
Rolen has wavered between retiring and playing in 2013, and said in early February that he would not attend Reds camp because he was “not ready to make a commitment,” but wanted to leave his options open.” Like all of the candidates profiled, the eight-time Gold Glover has slowed a step in the field and in the box over the years, but if brought aboard, he could man the hot corner in April, and if willing to take some reps at first base after that, he could slide into a similar role as the one projected for Lee (without the outfield ability) or simply decide to officially call it quits after a brief 2013 run.
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