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News » Don't be foolish, the Yankees aren't done yet 2009-01-21

Don't be foolish, the Yankees aren't done yet 2009-01-21

Don't be foolish, the Yankees aren't done yet 2009-01-21
The Yankees aren't done. And if the prices are right, they should give strong consideration to signing free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets as their fifth starter and righty Juan Cruz as a setup reliever.

The extent of the Yankees' interest in Sheets and Cruz is not known, but even after adding CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and re-signing Damaso Marte, the team continues to explore the markets for both starters and relievers.

Both Sheets and Cruz are Type A free agents who were offered salary arbitration, but they would cost the Yankees only fourth- and fifth-round draft picks. The Yankees already have signed three higher-ranking free agents — Mark Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett.

Sheets, while a physical risk, could be the Yankees' answer to Brad Penny and John Smoltz, both of whom signed with the Red Sox for relatively low base salaries with the chance to earn significantly more through incentives.

Cruz, on the other hand, makes more sense for the Yankees than he does for any other club. Teams are reluctant to forfeit a first-round pick for a setup reliever. But an aggressive spender such as the Yankees, because of a flaw in the compensation system, gives up a lower-round draft pick with each Type A free agent that it signs.

The Yankees' priority, however, remains free-agent lefty Andy Pettitte, who rejected an offer of a one-year, $10 million contract yet appears to have no other alternatives., citing a baseball source, reported Tuesday that Pettitte is weighing a lesser offer to return to the Astros. However, Astros GM Ed Wade told, "I haven't had any discussions with Andy or any of his representatives at all. We're up against our (budget) number right now."

The possibility of the Yankees re-signing Pettitte cannot be dismissed until the team fills his spot in the rotation. But Sheets and Cruz combined probably would not cost the Yankees much more than $10 million.

At the moment, the Yankees are committed to paying $187.975 million to 17 players, according to salary information compiled from the Cot's Baseball Contracts web site.

That number would climb above $190 million if the Yankees spent $10 million more on pitching and followed through on their plan to trade Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. But the payroll still would be below last season's Opening Day figure of $209 million.

The question, then, is which pitchers the Yankees will choose — and whether they will sign another catcher to protect against the possibility that Jorge Posada recovers slowly from shoulder surgery.

MLB Hot Stove

Around the Horn

The A's are unlikely to trade for Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson as long as they still have a chance of signing free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Johnson is guaranteed $5.5 million in 2009, and his addition would push the A's to their payroll limit. If the A's sign Cabrera, they could use shortstop Bobby Crosby as a super-utility man, playing him at second, third and even the outfield. Crosby, however, is due $5.25 million and has only played short in the majors ...

The Brewers caught a break when first baseman Prince Fielder asked for $8 million in salary arbitration, $2 million more than the team offered. Club officials feared that Fielder would file between $8.5 million, the midpoint of Ryan Howard's case a year ago, and $10 million, the salary that Howard eventually won in arbitration ...

The Yankees are encouraged by the play of center fielder Melky Cabrera in the Dominican winter league; in just over 100 plate appearances, Cabrera had a batting average/on-base/slugging line of .312-.393-.409. Defense is the Yankees' priority in center field, and club officials believe that Cabrera, Brett Gardner or some combination of both will fill the position adequately ...

One GM found it curious that the Mets signed Cory Sullivan to be an outfield reserve after they already had acquired Jeremy Reed, calling them "the exact same player." Sullivan, 29, and Reed, 27, both are left-handed hitters, and both are out of minor-league options. Their adjusted career on-base/slugging percentages are nearly identical, and they've had almost the same number of career plate appearances ...

Contrary to what was reported in the first version of this column, left-hander Dennys Reyes has not backed off his demand for "Affeldt money," referring to Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8 million deal with the Giants. Reyes remains unsigned, along with a number of other left-handed relievers, including Joe Beimel, Will Ohman and Brian Shouse ...

The Dodgers, Rangers, Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks are among the clubs expected to watch free-agent right-hander Kris Benson's next throwing session on Saturday. Benson, who underwent rotator-cuff surgery in March 2007, last pitched in the majors in 2006. He was 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts for the Phillies' Class AAA affiliate last season.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 21, 2009

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