With outfielder Nick Swisher now a free agent the Yankees should set their sights on landing his replacement: former MVP Josh Hamilton.
There’s been almost no indication that the Yankees will go for it and obviously this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Hamilton will at least require a nine-figure contract but the time is now for New York and their aging core and what better way to extend it than to get one of the game’s greatest hitters in their lineup?
As mentioned, there are a number of things to think about before jumping feet-first into another mega contract though.
First of all, there’s his position.
Hamilton played center field and left field last season and even put in 10 games at DH. As is normal with the passing of time, the 31-year-old Hamilton is not quite the center fielder he once was but is still very capable in the outfield. He’s at least comparable to Swisher in right.
Plus with Brett Gardner still on board and Curtis Granderson under contract (for the time being) Joe Girardi has two excellent outfielders as it is anyway. Having Hamilton out there is not going to kill you.
Besides, right field is not that deep in Yankee Stadium anyway, which is a big reason why the left-handed Hamilton would be so dangerous in that Yankee lineup.The biggest hurdle to signing Hamilton would be how many years it would take to land him. In four years’ time Hamilton will be 35 and it would seem the best place for him to play would be as DH. Unfortunately for the Yankees they still have the matter of the broken-down Alex Rodriguez to handle.
The 37-year-old still has five years and $114 left on his ridiculous contract that serves as a constant reminder of thinking ahead before handing out so much money.
A-Rod was at DH more game this past season (38) than any other season in his career and that was even after missing some 40 games with injuries. He is clearly headed towards being a full-time DH due to injury concerns as well as fielding concerns.
Still, if the Yankees can get four decent fielding years in the outfield out of Hamilton, then that would mean in 2017 they’d need to decide whether a 41-year-old A-Rod should be DH or a 36-year-old Hamilton. But if Rodriguez continues his offensive decline, even assuming that his horrible September/October was an aberration, he would by that time certainly be at the point where they would consider eating the last year of his contract and send him elsewhere to chase Bonds’ record.
Ironically the well-known atrocity of the A-Rod deal actually works in their favor as other teams surely are leery of giving out deals anywhere near that length. The Yankees, with their enormous resources, can absorb it better than anyone but should aim for a six-year deal, and certainly no more than seven. Their advantage is that they can afford a higher average salary than anyone else can offer.
Why would the Yankees do all this though? With A-Rod no longer a viable number-three hitter and Teixeira unable to crack the .260 mark the last three seasons they need someone else to protect Cano, who’s only signed for one more season. Not to mention, their roster leans on other aging stars in addition to A-Rod like Rivera (42), Pettitte (40), Jeter (38), and even “younger” players like Cano (30), Teixeira (32), and Sabathia (32) are no longer in their 20′s.
The Yankees may very well be able to extend their run with another trip to the postseason without breaking the bank for a player like Hamilton. But that’s not the Yankee way.