The New York Yankees won’t find respite to their injury woes in Derrek Lee.
Not that you’d necessarily call a 37-year old retired first baseman who hasn’t played in the bigs since two years ago a respite, but the Yankees will have to cast a wider net, it seems.
According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, Lee has declined the offer to return to the major leagues in pinstripes, though he “considered the request for several days” before letting the team know that he’s enjoying retirement just fine.
It’s not much of a surprise, really, considering that team GM Brian Cashman wasn’t “optimistic” about his attempts to reach out to recent retirees. Lee had retired as an above-replacement player with a 1.4 fWAR , .771 OPS season in 2011 to close the books on his career, and that he chose not to play on further probably says something more about his wanting to step away from the game rather than his skills being unemployable.
What it does mean, however, is that the Yankees now find themselves with even fewer options.
Sure, the team and manager Joe Girardi will continue to play with combinations of in-house infielders, whether it’s moving Kevin Youkilis to third, or using Dan Johnson/Juan Rivera at first base — even Travis Hafner has to be considered at this point.
It’s something that the team might even try to sell as an adequate solution for the first two months of the 2013 season, but the fact of the matter is that it’s the most desperate of contingency plans. The team, like most teams, were ill-prepared to lose two of its offensive core, and the Yankees will continue to scramble to find something resembling an above-replacement level player to hang their hopes on while Mark Teixeira recovers.
Where else could they look?
Well, Aubrey Huff is still technically a free agent, but has told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s essentially retired. Carlos Lee is still looking for a job these days, and reports indicate that his agent has actually reached out to New York, but that alone should tell you what kind of option he represents (even if he was okay against righties in 2012), no?
A glance over the potential out-of-options players doesn’t yield much better results, and while there is a trade market out there — the Colorado Rockies, who are looking to potentially off-load one of their bats, come to mind —but the Yankees don’t exactly have the currency in assets (in this case, MLB-ready pitching) to make that kind of deal.
So yes, Cashman and co. will have to continue being creative, because even the best contingency options are far from gone now.
It’s one thing to be confident about being able to win, but it’s quite another to say it while trotting out Juan Rivera as a starting first baseman — and the Yankees don’t want to find out what that really means.