Hot Stove

Aging in the outfield

After locking up catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal, the Yankees have now turned their attention to other areas – most notably the outfield. Now that the team is trying to trim payroll to $189 million, they’re looking at cheaper options to Curtis Granderson. Enter Carlos Beltran.

According to George  King of the New York Post, the Yankees are the frontrunners to land Beltran who has long been a target within the organization. Beltran, who turns 37 in April, is said to be looking for a three-year deal. The Yankees are unwilling to go beyond two, but the consensus is that the two sides will work something out.

While the name and the playoff track record sound nice, is it worth signing an older outfielder who has chronic knee problems? Remember, this is a team that already has outfielders that include: Alfonso Soriano, who turns 38 in January; Ichiro Suzuki, who just turned 40; Vernon Wells, who turns 35 in December but plays like he’s 45. Granted,  at least two – maybe all three –  won’t be on the team in 2015; Wells might not even make the roster in 2014. Even though he’s aged well up until this point, signing Beltran into his age 40 season could wind up being a mistake; giving $30 million plus to an older player rarely works out

He hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI in 145 games in 2013. He played in 151 games in 2012. But as Yankee fans know, age has a way of creeping up on you quickly (see Derek Jeter). Beltran could see time at DH, but the Yankees would prefer to keep that open for Jeter, McCann, Teixeira and A-Rod if he isn’t suspended for the whole season. The team was ravaged by injuries in 2013, and the outcry from the fans was to get younger. Signing Beltran doesn’t accomplish that.

Grandy is still on the Yankees’ radar

The Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have continued to talk with the agents for Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Ellsbury, while a dynamic player, is very injury prone and would come at a price tag north of $100 million. Choo, 31, who is considered to be the best leadoff hitter in the game, will also be very expensive. There have been reports that Cashman has talked with Nate McLouth‘s agent, who would be a fall-back option should the other outfielders sign elsewhere.

The Yankees still have to sign Robinson Cano, lure back Hiroki Kuroda and maybe make a run at Masahiro Tanaka if he gets posted, so they probably won’t shell out a $100 million contract. If the Yankees miss out on everybody and Granderson is still available, they might have no choice but to go after the soon-to-be 33-year-old because, let’s face it, the platoon of Wells/Ichiro would be a horror show. Cashman said recently that Grandy still could be in play for him.

Beltran has been linked to the Tigers, Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, Red Sox and now the Reds. However, the fact that Kevin Long was Beltran’s hitting coach at Single-A in the Royals organization in 1997 could help sway the outfielder to the Bronx. The two remain good friends and keep in contact with each other. Regardless, the offer of a third-year will ultimately earn Beltran’s services.

The Yankees had their chance to sign Beltran in 2004 before he signed with the Mets. Even though it sounds great now, Cashman and the Yanks may be nine years too late. The last thing this team needs is another  guy on the wrong side of 34.

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