A month from today, Yankees regulars are scheduled to report to spring training in Tampa. And as of now, they still don’t have a right-handed hitting outfielder.
“I know it’s getting late, but we’re still looking," GM Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday. “We’re open for business, but we’re not going to do something just to do something. If we have to, we’ll go to Tampa with what we’ve got."
Right now, that means three left-handed hitters in their starting outfield -- Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki -- and no DHs, with the departures of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones.
And, not a lot of options left.
The Yankees had expressed an interest in Michael Morse, but never even got a callback from the Washington Nationals. Justin Upton, who is being shopped by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has them on his no-trade list, but according to a source, that is not really an obstacle.
The real problem is that the Diamondbacks perused the menu of what the Yankees have to offer and saw nothing they wanted.
So now, it seems like Scott Hairston, the 32-year-old journeyman who had a career season for the Mets last year, could be the only choice and all indications are that he would rather play just about anywhere but in the Bronx, if only because the Yankees can’t promise him an everyday gig. Hairston’s agent, Casey Close, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The outfield situation obscures what has been an otherwise productive post-season for Cashman and the Yankees. They re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte to reasonable one-year deals to bolster the starting rotation. They avoided an arbitration battle with Phil Hughes, who shared the team lead in wins (16) with Kuroda last year.
And no matter how much antipathy you have for Kevin Youkilis, it’s hard to argue with Cashman’s assertion that he was the best available option as a fill-in third baseman while the Yankees wait for Alex Rodriguez to return from hip surgery.
And yet there are holes in this roster, created in part by the Hal Steinbrenner-imposed $189 million payroll ceiling for 2014, and in part because there really hasn’t been a lot out there this winter.
I proposed the following scenario to Cashman: Let’s say the Yankees add no more parts between now and the start of the season, and the Boston Red Sox start Jon Lester, a lefty, at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day.
Who’s the DH?
The names he gave me were Russ Canzler, Matt Diaz, Eduardo Nunez or perhaps Youkilis if Nunez -- gasp! -- plays third base.
Canzler and Diaz are non-roster invites who were signed to minor-league deals this spring. Nunez, of course, is NunEEEE, who played shortstop in the Dominican Winter League and hit a disappointing .275 with no homers and just 4 RBIs.
The loss of Morse may not be as big a deal as it seems; he will be 31 in a month, has a long injury history (knee and shoulder surgery in the past and missed the first two months of last season with a back issue), is a subpar defensive outfielder and has been suspended three times for steroid use, twice in the minors and once in 2005 in his first go-round with the Mariners.
But the fact that the Yankees apparently have little chance to snag Upton or Hairston leaves them with very limited prospects for upgrading the one glaring hole in their roster between now and Opening Day.
“Hey, we’ve got between now and July 31 to get something done,’’ Cashman said. “I’m sure something will develop. It always does.’’
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What if nothing turns up? Can you live with the Yankees' roster as it is?