The New York Yankees got the cold shoulder this weekend from three of their star players, so they are now faced with a big question – where do they turn now? As much as Brian Cashman would love to just bring someone up to fill the voids, it is not going to happen. The Yankees know that they will have a need for an outfielder and the most popular name to emerge is Torii Hunter. The Yankees may like him, but with the new thinking in the Bronx, will they be able to get him?
Even though Hunter’s pluses outweigh his negatives, the Yankees are already old and Hunter has seen better days, but don’t they have to at least try to get him? With the options in free agency, the Yankees hand may be forced to go after Hunter.
Hunter had a decent season in 2012 and his numbers are similar to Nick Swisher’s so as it may not be the ideal option, someone has to play right field. Hunter’s OPS last year was .817, just slightly below Swisher’s .839. Hunter still has some gas in the tank and does play some excellent defense, but this will be a tough decision for the Yankees organization weighing the pro’s and con’s on how hard they go after Hunter.
Swisher deciding to leave is painful for Yankee fans in more ways than just his play, as he was a fan favorite, with him always having a huge smile playing each game like it was his last. One image that may make the loss not as painful is that of him misplaying a line drive in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Hunter, who is 37 will only be looking for a short-term contract, which fits well into Cashman’s plans for the team. It seems like the perfect match, but it is a very short-term fix with no one very close to being MLB ready in the minors.
This is tough – at 37, he may fit in well with the rest of the aging former stars, but this move does not make the aging Yankees any younger. If the Yankees were a team that was built for a run in 2013 he is a guy to love. Hunter has what it takes to play in New York and to add a guy who can play and has the personality to fit in anywhere would say that they should go hard after him.
The problem is with so few free agents and even fewer that can fill the void in the outfield, the Yankees may be forced into a corner having to pay Hunter more than what he is worth. This move only makes sense if the Yankees truly believe they can field a team that can make a run at that elusive 28th ring. If the Yankees invest too much money in Hunter they will be left with very little to go after their other needs.
The biggest problem is that younger free agents will be offered multi-year deals that the Yankees are hesitant to hand out this offseason because of Hal Steinbrenner‘s $189 million mandate for 2014. So the Yankees may still blow Hunter out of the water on a one-year deal, but, unless they deduct payroll from another area, they are unlikely to make the move.
Other teams of course are also after Hunter, so the Yankees will have to make more than one decision on their pursuit of Hunter. Are they willing to offer him more than one year? Is a short-term outfielder worth going after hard; and the biggest one of all are they only a player or two away from making a deep run in the playoffs?