Word on the “street” is that Mike Cameron is close to signing a multi-year deal with the Chicago Cubs (h/t RAB). While this is good for Cameron and the Cubs, it is not good for the Yankees. Cameron was a possible option for the Yankees’ 2010 outfield and now it appears the Yankees will not have a chance to get him.
If this signing does become a reality, I suspect that the Yankees will hasten their pursuit of Johnny Damon and that the 2010 Yankees will be very much like–if not identical to–the 2009 Yankees. If Cameron is not an option, the free agent outfield options get very thin, and Johnny Damon is on the top of the Yankee list, as big names Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are apparently (and thankfully) not targets for GM Brian Cashman and company.
Some other options include the Type B Marlon Byrd and former pitcher Rick Ankiel, but the Yankees have been linked to neither, and that is a good thing. The former is perfect for the Rangers in that he doesn’t hit well outside of Arlington and the latter just isn’t very good. His power has dropped off, his on base skills are very limited and he’s had an awful time staying healthy.
Once again, it would seem that Johnny Damon is the best choice for the Yankees. He can reoccupy left field for another year (hopefully that’s it, with an option year perhaps) and the Yankees can once again rely on a Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner platoon for center field. While this strategy worked in 2009, I’m not ultra-confident in it being successful again. If this is the Yankees’ plan moving forward, they will have to be very confident that Cabrera can, at the very least, repeat his 2009 season.
If the platoon CF scenario does look to be coming true, I would most definitely expect the Yankees to go out and get a big-hitting, full time DH. Obviously, Hideki Matsui will be the favorite candidate for that position with Nick Johnson and Jim Thome as other possibilities. Another candidate to possibly consider for the DH role is Carlos Delgado. He’s played in the AL East before, his left-handed bat would play very well in Yankee Stadium, and he could probably be had for cheap. Delgado was not offered arbitration by the Mets after missing virtually all of 2009. When he was on the field, though, he produced. In 26 games, Delgado hit four homers while driving in 23 and hitting .298/.393/.521/.914. Perhaps, like Matsui last year, the secret to keeping Delgado healthy will be keeping him off the field and having him DH. Though he’s a dark-horse candidate and there hasn’t been much talk about him this off season, Delgado could emerge late as a DH option for the Yankees.