With the recent injuries to starting first baseman Mark Teixeira and outfielder Curtis Granderson, it is hard to imagine the New York Yankees just sitting on their hands and waiting for the injured players to come back.
The Yankees have already made one move, signing free agent outfielder Ben Francisco. Now, they are close to making another one.
The rumors are swirling — going as far as the Yankees trying to get Chipper Jones out of retirement. Even though the Yankees trying to sign Jones was more of a wish than anything else, they are going to do something. The Yankees are starting to look a little desperate and are now trying to convince another retired player, Derrek Lee, to come back to baseball to help the team at the weakest position right now — first base.
Lee last played in 2011, where he split time between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles. Lee may be rusty, but sources close to the first baseman have assured Yankees GM Brian Cashman that Lee is in shape and ready to play.
The retiree can be a bridge until the return of Teixeira in May. The Yankees have realized that no one on the team is close to good enough to fill that void. With Lee, the Yankees will get, at the very least, a solid defensive first baseman who has won multiple Gold Gloves over his career.
According to sources within the Yankees organization, the team is close to signing Lee to a one-year deal. Even though he hasn’t played a full season in the majors since 2002, the Yankees are still very interested, and are serious about getting him in pinstripes. The team realizes time is running out, and they need to get Lee to Tampa as soon as possible.
The 37-year old is very interested in the Yankees offer; right now, it all comes down to money. Neither Lee nor the Yankees expect him to play much after the return of Teixeira, and both sides seem to be fine with that.
Lee is the best move the Yankees can make right now even if he is an older player, because adding anyone with experience is nearly impossible this time of year.
Over his 15-year career, Lee has a lifetime batting average of .281 and hit 331 home runs, and was the 2005 NL batting champion, hitting .335 when he played for the Chicago Cubs. He helped the Florida Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, so it would be nice of him to pay back the Yankees by coming out of retirement to help them out of this situation they are in.
Even though Teixeira has said he will be back by May, there is a possibility that the strained tendon in his right wrist could linger, which could have him playing musical chairs on the DL. Or, in the worst-case scenario, he comes back and realizes that he will need season-ending surgery. Teixeira has been very vocal that his injury is not as bad as other MLB players who have had similar injuries, but the Yankees can’t take that chance.
The fact the Yankees are pursuing a player that has been retired shows that the team may think the injury is a lot more severe than they are letting on, or it could be they are just trying to have a back-up plan just in case.
Either way, the Yankees are in full talks with Lee, and they have to go at him hard and give him whatever he wants to come back to MLB. If they don’t, and Teixeira does end up missing more time, or has to have surgery, the season will go from bad to all but over for the Yankees.
Nik Swartz is the Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @sweetnesz13