We all know Hal Steinbrenner has set a goal of cutting the Yankees' payroll to $189 million for 2014. Your duty as a Yankees fan is to make sure he doesn't achieve that goal, and our job at ESPNNewYork.com is to provide you with reasons to make sure he doesn't. Hey, it's Hal's money, not yours. With that in mind, we are going to examine potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we call, appropriately, "Spend Hal's Money."
Today's candidate: Nelson Cruz
Position: Outfielder (RF)
Age: Turns 34 on July 1
Weight: 230 pounds
2013 numbers: .266-27-76 with an .833 OPS in 109 games for the Texas Rangers
Expected going rate: Avoided arbitration by signing for $10.5 million last winter, is expected to seek a deal for three years at about S11 million per. Not outrageous and probably less than the Yankees would have to spend to hold onto Curtis Granderson.
The Pros: Tough to judge off his abbreviated 2013 season, but his power numbers were in line with his career averages. Not a great RBI guy -- his high is 90 in 2012 -- but his OBP (.327) would have been third-high on the injury-depleted 2013 Yankees, and his OPS was better than any Yankee not named Robinson Cano. Doesn't hit for average (.268 career hitter), but on the plus side, isn't terrible against righties (.262), eliminating need for a platoon. Should be well-rested after sitting out his 50-game suspension for involvement with Biogenesis.
The Cons: A right-handed batter, which means he will probably not benefit from the cozy right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. A subpar outfielder -- can you imagine how Yankee fans would have reacted if he blew the last out of a potential World Series clincher the way he did in Game 6 of the 2011 Series for Texas? -- whose offensive contributions might be negated by his defensive liabilities. Strikes out a fair amount. Not Granderson-type K numbers, but can be counted on for 120 or so whiffs in a full season and was averaging a K a day until he got suspended in August, with 109 Ks in 109 games.
The verdict: An intriguing possibility, especially since the price tag may not be prohibitively high, and if the Yankees weren't already committed to $6.5 million for Ichiro Suzuki would be worth a look. But there might be better, and even cheaper, options out there. Pass.