Maybe there is life in the Yankees front office after all. Without Brian Cashman, the Yankees are quietly (maybe not so quietly) running a background check on slugger Josh Hamilton, according to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today.
There are a couple of things going on here. The first, and perhaps biggest, is that Cashman is not involved. This is significant because the Yankees have gotten quite a bit of criticism toward the budget constraints recently. The last time there was so much criticism was after they missed out on Cliff Lee and the response by the Yankees was for Randy Levine to go behind Cashman’s back to sign Rafael Soriano.
The same thing could be happening again. Consider that the Yankees sent Cashman to the Winter Meetings without the authority to even make offers to free agents. Perhaps there are people within the organization who don’t like the way he is following through with Hal Steinbrenner’s budget.
The other thing about this is that Hamilton’s market has not developed the way he hoped. Initial reports were that he wanted a huge eight-year, $214 million, but he hasn’t gotten offers anywhere close to that. The Texas Rangers seemed like the best fit to me and they seem far more focused on signing Zach Greinke or trading for Justin Upton. Meanwhile it seems that one of his best offers could be from Seattle in the three-year, $60-$75 million range. If that’s the case it makes perfect sense for the Yankees to at least be checking in on him right now.
It is possible, although it would be hard, that the Yankees could fit even $25 million and still reach their payroll goals. This certainly means that Curtis Granderson is gone after this season and probably could mean Robinson Cano is gone too. With expected contract talks between the Yankees and Cano not even happening and rumors that he’s already looking for a $200 million + deal, Hamilton on a three or four year deal might be a better alternative considering Cano will be 31 by the time his deal is up.
Signing Hamilton wouldn’t necessarily mean they couldn’t re-sign Cano and it would give them huge leverage in negotiations next offseason. But consider, the Yankees have $15 million coming off the books when Granderson leaves plus they have another $37 million tied up in one-year deals with Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, three players who very well could be gone a year from now. Perhaps some of that money could be earmarked to cover the difference between Granderson and Hamilton’s contracts.
It still seems unlikely though. This very well could just be a member of the media trying to bring life to what has actually been a pretty boring offseason for the Yankees. There are reasons to think it could happen though and right now the only truly big bat in the Yankees lineup is Cano. So it’s not like there isn’t a need.