What Does Yankees Interest In Outfield Bats Mean?

According to numerous reports, the Yankees have already reached out to free agent outfield sluggers, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Bautista.

On the same day that Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner became the first member of the organization since Bernie Williams in 2000 to win a Gold Glove award, news broke that general manager Brian Cashman was dipping his toe into the pool that is big time free agent outfield bats.

All along it has been assumed that the Yankees would utilize internal options to man the wide open spaces of Yankee Stadium in 2017. So it is a bit curious that the club is even remotely interested in finding out what it would potentially take to sign a game-changing offensive threat.

While there are question marks abound regarding the output of a projected Yankees’ outfield of Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Judge, even Brian Cashman admits that the club likely won’t be able to add to its already crowded outfield unless “we move money.”

On top of the three aforementioned players, the Yankees also need to find playing time for Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin (unless one or both were to be dealt).

Speaking of potential trades. With Brett Gardner winning his first ever Gold Glove award it’s safe to say his trade value will never again be this high. At 33-years-old and a declining offensive game, perhaps the Yankees are looking to free up Gardner’s two-year, $24M contract while getting back maximum value in return.

Obviously, this sum wouldn’t be enough to sign a player like Cespedes or Bautista, but it’s a start. Cespedes (31) just opted out of his remaining two-year, $47.5M with the Mets, so it’s safe to say he’ll be looking for something in the neighborhood of five-years, $100M. I can’t see the Yankees going any higher than three-years, $75M — and even then it goes against the dynamic of what they began to assemble this past season.

Bautista, on the other hand is 36, and after a down year in Toronto where he batted .235 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, many were surprised that he turned down the Jays’ qualifying offer of $17.2M. I can’t see many clubs investing anything more than three-years, $55M. In my opinion, the Yankees should steer clear of Joey Bats.

As far as Cespedes is concerned, when healthy, his plus speed, precise route to fly balls, and electric throwing arm are the reasons behind him winning a 2015 AL Gold Glove award. Combine that with his propensity for hitting close to .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI per season, and well it makes sense that the Yankees at least explore the possibility of his addition to the middle part of their lineup.

This offseason for the Yankees will be ripe with speculation and expectation — which is a nice change from the way the organization has handled itself over the past two winter breaks. Whatever comes out in the wash, I wouldn’t expect Cashman and company to do anything that endangers the long-term goals of this club.

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