The Yankees first priority this offseason has been identified – resign Andy Pettitte. After that the Yankees will switch gears and focus on their hole in left field where their first choice, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, is Johnny Damon. Two players who aren’t options according to Olney, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay.
There are conditions to resigning Damon though. Apparently they would like to resign Damon, but if he’s set against a pay cut or wants a three or four year deal the Yankees are likely to pass. The reason is they set a budget and it seems likely that they will stick to it (although Roy Halladay could change that). Their budget seems to be the reason they didn’t offer Damon arbitration, they don’t want to get stuck paying him too much, and the reason Holliday and Bay are not options.
Their budget is the same reason I believe that the Yankees are not totally out on Holliday and Bay. Olney’s thinking that they are likely to pass on those two is probably more about budget than the Yankees desire for either player. After all, they are both good players, Holliday obviously better than Bay, but the Yankees don’t anticipate their price tags dropping to the range where it makes sense to sign either player. If one of them did become available for say $12-$15 million per season then all bets are off.
If Damon doesn’t take a pay cut and Holliday or Bay’s prices don’t come back down to earth then expect the Yankees to turn towards an outfielder like Mike Cameron (who has always made sense for the Yankees).
Also not to be overlooked is the fact that the Yankees really haven’t given the impression that Hideki Matsui is returning. Instead what we keep hearing is that the Yankees want to keep the DH position open so they can rotate their other regulars into that position. Some people hate this idea, I don’t think it’s so bad. Sure it’ll give at bats to guys like Ramiro Pena, who hurt the lineup, but it can also be a way for the Yankees to give some at bats to Juan Miranda or possibly even Jesus Montero. In my eyes it’s not a terrible thing.
Besides, there could be DH’s to be had late in the winter and probably even after that via trade. If at some point the Yankees look to be a little weak because of Matsui’s absense it can be corrected.