LEFT FIELDER: Johnny Damon is a free agent and not a lock to return, as agent Scott Boras has let it be known that he is looking for a multiyear contract to cash in on Damon's largely positive 2009 season. The free-agent market has two big outfield bats in Matt Holliday and Jason Bay, either of whom could slot in nicely in the defensive alignment as upgrades over Damon. But there is a lot to like about how Damon complemented Derek Jeter at the top of the Yankees' lineup with his mix of baserunning smarts and a potent bat, and he will be considered to return.
DESIGNATED HITTER: If those really were Hideki Matsui's final swings in a Yankees uniform during Game 6 of the World Series, it will go down as one of the most fantastic exiting performances in history. Matsui has made it little secret that he'd be interested in continuing his career in New York, and he has no desire to play in Japan. But his inability to play the outfield puts the Yankees in a tight spot, as manager Joe Girardi has said that he likes the flexibility of having a revolving door of DHs to permit Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Jeter and Mark Teixeira to stay in the lineup while giving them breathers. One dark-horse in-house candidate to DH could be Juan Miranda, who has been overlooked at the big league level but impressed the organization with his power bat.
Who they can or need to trade:
Chamberlain or Hughes: Only in the right package, of course, and probably a potential one that would bring them Halladay from north of the border. The Yankees know that a big trade won't come cheaply, and that same sort of asking price is what stalled them from trading for Johan Santana two winters ago. Everyone has a pretty good idea of what Chamberlain and Hughes could become, and they've shown flashes of it. The question is if the Bombers want to cash that in for a finished product.
RHP Ian Kennedy: After making it back from an aneurysm near his right armpit this season, Kennedy pitched just one inning in the big leagues but is considered an option for 2010. A former No. 1 Draft choice, Kennedy is among a mix who could come into camp competing for a rotation spot or serve as depth at Triple-A, but he might also make an attractive chip for teams.
2B Robinson Cano: Not that the Yankees have any immediate need to dislodge the second baseman of a World Series-winning roster, but teams would certainly be interested in a player whose best seasons may still be ahead of him. Cano is relatively affordable, due $19 million over the next two seasons, but that and his ceiling are what make him so attractive to keep. Plus, New York doesn't have anyone to immediately replace him.
CF Melky Cabrera: There have been rumors about dealing Cabrera every so often for years, so there seems no reason to stop now. Cabrera offers the Yankees an inexpensive, ready-made fit to fight Brett Gardner and now Austin Jackson in center field this spring, barring some unforeseen deal to bring in outside help. Cabrera rebounded down the stretch after not winning the spring fight to serve as New York's center fielder and made himself more attractive in trades.
CF Austin Jackson, C Jesus Montero, C Austin Romine, OF Slade Heathcott, RHP Zach McAllister, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, RHP Andrew Brackman and C J.R. Murphy.
RHP Brian Bruney, OF Melky Cabrera, RHP Chad Gaudin, RHP Sergio Mitre and RHP Chien-Ming Wang.
The Yankees took the field on Opening Day with a $201 million payroll, and while no one expects them to spend anywhere near the $423.5 million they committed to Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira last winter, they will have some room to play with thanks to money coming off the books. The funds spent last year for Damon and Matsui ($13 million each) represent a sizable amount to attract free agents, while Pettitte ($5.5 million plus $5 million in incentives), Wang ($5 million), Xavier Nady ($6.5 million) and Jose Molina ($2.1 million) can also be shuffled in the budget. Sure, there's talk of lowering payroll once again, but of course, that might last only until the Steinbrenners see something they must have.