New York Yankees Position Breakdown: Outfield
Now that we’ve taken care of all infield positions, lets move to the outfield. Really, there isn’t much here that I expect to change in the outfield for the New York Yankees, but there’s still a lot to talk about.
The Yankees got all kinds of production from their outfield in 2013. Sometimes they had all three spots contributing, and other days they left you wondering what was going wrong.
Vernon Wells, who was acquired by the Yankees with about a week left in spring training, got off to a hot start in April, before falling off the grid for the rest of the season, pretty much showing why the Los Angeles Angels were willing to eat up almost all of his remaining contract just to get rid of him.
The way I see things shaping out in 2014, Wells, will probably be used in a bench role, getting some at-bats later in games — although he was never very clutch in 2013, Joe Girardi will still probably give him chances, anyway.
Ichiro Suzuki came back to the Yankees on a two-year deal after being traded to New York before the trade deadline in 2012. He hit well for the Yanks in that span, putting down a .322 batting average in 67 games. But 2013 was not what the Bombers were hoping for, as Ichiro played out the worst offensive season of his career, hitting a career-low .263.
He’s 39 now, and will be 40 in 2014, and it’s possible that this could be the final season of his major league career, if not, the last season he plays in the Bronx.
Brett Gardner will be back next season for the final year of his contract with the Yankees, and I’m sure that if things go in favor of GM Brian Cashman, Gardner will being playing in the Bronx beyond 2014.
Gardner’s season was cut a couple weeks short because of an oblique strain that forced him onto the DL. Up until the injury, Gardner was having the best offensive season of his career, and was even playing great defense in center field.
At the plate, Gardner set new career-highs in doubles (33), triples (10), — which actually lead the American League — RBIs (56), homeruns (8), and slugging percentage (.417). His .273 batting average was just a few points off of his career-high of .277 in 2010. On the down side, though, he set a new career-high in strikeouts, by far, with 127.
Gardner will figure to be the Yankees’ starting center fielder once again next season, just as he was in 2013, playing all 138 games in the outfield in center.
When Alfonso Soriano comes back in 2014, the Yankees will only pray that he can pick up right where he left off in 2013, when he hit 17 homeruns and drove in 5o runs in just 58 games after being traded to the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs in late-July. Without question, Soriano was the most productive hitter in the lineup, and even went through and entire week in which he drove in 18 runs — that seven day performance earned him AL Player of the Week honors.
Soriano is under contract for the 2014 season, and after that, it’s unclear what will happen with him — but I’m sure no one is thinking about that right now.
Curtis Granderson currently isn’t under contract for the Yankees in 2014, and no one knows if he will be. Granderson suffered a couple of freak injuries in the final year of his deal. He was expected to put up big home run totals again in 2013, and was hoping to cash-in over the offseason, but now it’s possible that he returns to the Bronx on a one-year deal in hopes that he can reassert his market-value.
Coming into Tuesday, the feeling coming out of the Bronx was that the Yankees were planning on giving Granderson a qualifying offer with the idea that he will either accept it and come back on a one-year, $14 million deal, or he would decline it to seek a long-term contract somewhere else. Granderson has expressed that he wants to keep playing New York again next season, and it seems likely he would accept the offer.
But yesterday, the New York Daily News first reported, then I reported here on BaseballHotCorner.com that the Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran have mutual interest towards each other, and it’s possible that Beltran comes back to New York, this time in pinstripes.
Beltran has shown interest in the past about joining the Yankees — he contacted the team in 2005 and 2011, but the Yankees didn’t have needs for him at those time. Career numbers, along with his clutch postseason career, make him a good fit to join the Yankees as a switch hitting bat who could play well with the short-porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
Of course, Granderson would be the wild card in this, because if they choose to give him a QO, and he were to accept it, then there would be no room for Beltran, as the Yankees would have five outfielders under contract.
When I first reported the news on Twitter, the overwhelming reaction is that Yankees fans would welcome Beltran to the Bronx with open arms.
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