- Posted: 9:28 AM, July 17, 2012
For me, it was, as George Costanza said on this episode of "Seinfeld," "like discovering plutonium...by accident!"
Here's my column. As I wrote in it, the dilemma the Yankees have with Ibanez and Andruw Jones reminds me of what the Yankees had last summer with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. They were thrilled with what they had received from that duo, yet they had no clue what to expect from them the rest of the way. Brian Cashman referred to it as "No man's land." Colon, you probably remember, petered out, while Garcia pitched well enough down the stretch that he wound up starting ALDS Game 2 for the Yankees.
In the column, I mentioned the Phillies' Shane Victorino as the best fit on the trade market, since the largest expenditure for him would likely be money. Of course, the Phillies could try to pay some or all of the freight - Victorino has about another $4 million coming to him this season - in the hopes of getting a higher-caliber player in the deal. I also mentioned Justin Upton (asking price too high) and former Met Jeff Francoeur (not very good).
Any other possibilities? Here are some more outfielders who are potentially available:
Carlos Quentin, San Diego. He's enjoying a strong walk year. If there's any objection to him from a Yankees standpoint, it's that his skill sets are not at all like those of Gardner, who could be done for the season. But that shouldn't preclude talks from occurring.
Coco Crisp, Oakland. He has Gardner's speed and defense, and he's a switch-hitter, to boot. His offense has become a liability, however. With $6 million coming to him this year and $7 million next year? Nah.
Vernon Wells, Angels. As Wayne Gretzky said in this commercial, "No." Not with $21 million coming to him each of the next two seasons.
Denard Span, Minnesota. He would make some sense. Lefty hitter, good fielder. Used to run the bases well. Has a contract paying him $4.75 million next year and $6.5 million in 2014. Of course, because of these factors, the asking price figures to be high.
Chris Young, Arizona. He has been very good in the past, as recently as last year, but not this season. His $8.5 millions salary for 2013 seems a little steep at the moment.
Michael Cuddyer, Colorado. He has $10.5 million coming to him each of the next two seasons. Eh.
Will Venable, San Diego. The Princeton product isn't eligible fore free agency until after the 2015 season, and he isn't the type of player whose salary is going to escalate dramatically; he could be a long-term fit in the Yankees' payroll-reduction plan, if they like him. His career splits show that he could benefit considerably from leaving Petco Park.
Mark Kotsay, San Diego. The Yankees liked him going all the way back to 2000, but that speaks now to the reality that Kotsay, 36, is another old guy. He's just a piece at this point. Given the Yankees' needs, they're probably better off keeping Dewayne Wise as a defensive replacement than bringing in Kotsay for his on-base skills.
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs. Man, it would be fun to have him back in the Bronx. But it ain't happening, not with Soriano pulling in $18 million each of the next two seasons, unless the Cubs are feeling particularly charitable toward their fellow big-market team. And probably not even then.
Bryan LaHair, Cubs. An early-season sensation, his presence on this list indicates that the Cubs haven't fully bought into this late bloomer, who won't be eligible for free agency until the winter he turns 34 (he's currently 29). The Yankees would have to at least consider him.
Once we get the official prognosis for Gardner, which we could get as soon as today, we can offer a more precise take on what could and will go down. Standing here today, though, the options that seem to make the most sense for the Yankees are:
1) Victorino. Because of his profile, personally and contractually, and because the asking price figures to drop by July 31.
2) Standing pat. Ibanez has played in at least 134 games each of the seven prior seasons. This is pretty much what Jones gave the Yankees last year. And the "flexible DH" plan has paid off for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, in particular.
3) Venable. He's intriguing because he could contribute this year as well as help bridge the gap between Nick Swisher's likely departure after this year and the hoped arrival of outfield prospects like Tyler Austin and Mason Williams. It's just a matter of asking price. The Padres certainly don't need to unload him.
--Have a great day.