Hunter's pluses outweigh his negatives. His OPS last year was .817, a tinge below Swisher's .839. He still plays excellent defense. He is 37 so he will command only a short-term contract. It seems like the perfect match.
His negatives? He is 37 -- which won't make the aging Yankees any younger -- and there are a lot of teams that would love to add a guy who can play and has the personality to fit in anywhere.
But, as we have written previously, younger free agents will be offered multiyear 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 a team out of the water on a one-year deal, but, unless they deduct payroll from another area, they are unlikely to up it to two.
So if the Dodgers or others are willing to go to two years, the Yankees probably aren't going to be signing Hunter unless a trade freeing up payroll precedes the deal.
Brian Cashman went to the GM meetings on a fact-finding mission. From here, the Yankees will decide how to go forward. Swisher is a goner. Rafael Soriano likely is, too. The Yankees are hopeful to retain Hiroki Kuroda, but he is very popular so it is no sure thing. If Kuroda sticks to one-year deals, the Yankees could outbid anyone and offer Kuroda the comfort of another year in the Bronx. The Dodgers, though, lurk with their big-spending attitude and Kuroda's equal fondness for Chavez Ravine.
The Yankees hope to have Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte signed soon. Rivera has said he will return, but Cashman and Rivera's agent, Fern Cuza, still need to figure out the details. Pettitte hasn't officially decided to come back -- he's doing his ritual "Should I? Should I not?" routine -- but it seems impossible to find anyone who doesn't think Pettitte will return.
The Yankees would like Russell Martin to come back, but, while they will go multiple years for Martin, they may not go as high as others.
The Yankees have talked concepts with agents, but have yet to make any offers. After Friday, they know they officially have to replace Swisher. Hunter seems like a really good choice. The problem? Others seem to agree.
QUESTION: Would you offer Hunter two (or more) years?