Spring training is coming upon us. To date, the Yankees have made a number of acquisitions, many of which have been significant. However, there are still a number of questions and/or concerns confronting the team, largely in the infield and bullpen. While a major trade could still happen to address these issues, for now, I am going to assume that the same is either unlikely or not viable at the present. Nonetheless, there are still some lower key types of moves that could be made that could still improve the team and that should not cost the Yankees any major prospects.
Acquire Jeff Keppinger from the White Sox
Though by no means a great player, he is a solid utility guy with a more reliable bat than Brendan Ryan or Eduardo Nunez. Having a career .282 hitter who can play multiple positions, to be a back up infielder especially considering the uncertainties in the infield would make a lot of sense. Further, his salary is not significant enough to be a real issue.
Acquire Dayan Viciedo from the White Sox
While not the player the White Sox were hoping he would be, Dayan Viciedo has a decent amount of power and is only 24 which means he may not even be in his prime. While he does not display the greatest of plate patience and is nothing special defensively, he has enough power and hits for a high enough average that he would seem like a better asset than Ichiro Suzuki. Further, with Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki all free agents next year and a week outfield class, Viciedo would be a decent if not great hedge for next year. Additionally, he would be a pretty close replacement to what Soriano offers all around, making the Yankees not miss the loss of power much, if at all.
Acquire Ryan Rayburn from the Indians
Once upon a time, Ryan Rayburn was a high end prospect for the Tigers with a good amount of power. He has shown glimpses of power throughout his career and put together really solid numbers for a part timer last year. His splits tend to be better against lefties and he tore it up against lefties last year. While not a great fielder, he can play multiple infield and outfield positions. Considering the question marks across the infield, Rayburn could be at minimum a nice back up player.
Acquire Alberto Callaspo from the Athletics
Nothing screams spectacular about Callaspo. However, he is a solid all around player, capable of playing all three infield positions. He has some pop, can hit for a solid average and gets on base at a decent clip. He is a better option than at least the Yankees' current back ups and possibly some of the infield starters too.
Acquire Justin Smoak or Jesus Montero from the Mariners
As of now, it would appear the future is bleak for both of these players with the Mariners, even more so for Montero. However, with Mark Teixeira being brittle the last couple of years, a first baseman addition might be worthy of consideration, preferably one with some power. While Smoak has not tore it up in Seattle, part of me wonders if he could be the next Chris Davis, a player who stagnated until he hit his stride. He is still only 27. He was once a top power hitting prospect and it is possible that Seattle is at least partly his problem. Regardless, his pop would make him a likely better addition for the season over Lyle Overbay from last year. Significantly, his 2013 splits away from Seattle and against right handers suggest he could be a dangerous hitter at least situationally.
Montero had a really bad year last year. However, his rookie season in Seattle, while not spectacular, showed promise, at least on offense. By now, no one sees him as a catcher. However, if he could handle first base, he could be a decent, inexpensive option at first. For some reason, I think that him being traded to Seattle was the worst thing for him. For the price that it would likely cost to get him, it could be worth the move. Notably, in 2012 his splits away from Seattle and against left handers were more than respectable.
Acquire Gaby Sanchez from the Pirates
Another first baseman who has not quite become the player he was expected to be. However, he is a decent hitter who gets on base at a pretty good rate historically though he had a hiccup in 2012. He has some power and would present sufficient hedge against Teixeira being on the shelf.
Acquire JJ Putz from the Diamondbacks
While his salary is higher than the Yankees would probably want for a reliever, the commitment is short, and the Yankees could probably get the Diamondbacks to take back Ichiro if the Yankees eat part of his salary. While not spectacular, he is an above average reliever with ample closing experience though I would rather him not do so except in the alternative. With all the changes in the bullpen, while I do not love his propensity to blow saves, he would seem to make for a solid 7th or 8th inning option.
Sign Aledmys Diaz once he becomes available
I am not sure if this is a lower key move or not but I put this here because Aledmys Diaz does not have the same fanfare as some of his predecessors. With Derek Jeter announcing that this will be his last season, no shortstops of significance close to the majors in the Yankees system and a lot of poor infield options on the roster and minors, this move is a must. While no one can say how good Aledmys Diaz will be for certain, it has been projected that he would be a Jhonny Peralta type of player. I do not know about other people but I would be elated if that were so. He is supposed to have a solid bat with a bit of power and play solid defense, unlike Alexander Guerrero who is supposed to be a butcher defensively. Even if this guy needs seasoning, on a team whose infield has so many question marks, this is a risk that has to be taken.
Sign Andrew Bailey to an incentive laden deal similar to David Ardsma
Andrew Bailey was once a high end closer but his history succumbed to injuries rendering his last couple years quite unspectacular. However, he is only 28 and should be ready to pitch within a couple months of the start of the season. His upside is high enough to warrant an incentive laden deal.
What are your thoughts? Any of these players makes sense to you? Any other lower key suggestions?