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Sunday, December 23, 2012
Reaction: Santa, can I have an outfielder?

By Wallace Matthews



What happened: Nick Swisher, as expected, is now officially an ex-Yankee, having reportedly agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal -- you read that right -- with the Cleveland Indians. So is Raul Ibanez, who signed up for his third go-round with the Seattle Mariners.

What it means: Other than fewer quasi-military salutes -- didn't anyone ever tell Swisher a soldier salutes with the right hand? -- to the Bleacher Creatures, not a whole heck of a lot. Swisher was not in the team's plans, and if the Yankees had re-signed Ibanez, which they didn't seem all that eager to do, he was penciled in as a left-handed DH.

Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez
Losing Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez wasn't unexpected. You know what was? Being left with three southpaw outfielders and no depth.
Still, the Yankees lose 24 home runs and a lot of patient (read: l-o-o-o-n-g) at-bats from Swisher last year, as well as the only player to provide them with any offensive highlights in the 2012 postseason in Ibanez.

Fixing a hole: Even though neither Swisher nor Ibanez was intended to see any time in the Yankees' outfield in 2013, the fact remains that right now, it looks like Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki are going to have to play all 162 games. To make things worse, one of them is 39 years old and all of them are left-handed hitters. So the Yankees need an outfielder, and fast.

What are the options?: Well, they still retain Chris Dickerson, who is no more than a backup, and their decision to shed Justin Maxwell last April doesn't look too good right now. There are still a bunch of free-agent oufielders on the shelf, but considering the Yankees' (non-) spending habits this holiday season, I wouldn't expect any shiny new toy under Brian Cashman's tree come Christmas morning.

Just for argument's sake: According to ESPN.com's Free Agent Tracker, here are the outfielders who are still available for purchase: Bobby Abreu, Jeff Baker, Michael Bourn, Endy Chavez, Mark De Rosa, Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Bill Hall, Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady, Scott Podsednik and Grady Sizemore.

Who won't be coming: Abreu (been there, done that), Bourn (too expensive and too left-handed), Hall or Kearns (see Abreu). Sizemore's injury history makes him unlikely, too.

Who they would like: Hairston, but the word is he would prefer to return to the Mets, where he will play every day.

Who would you like? I know, I know, Giancarlo Stanton. Maybe the Easter Bunny will bring him. In the meantime, there are two more shopping days 'til Christmas and the Yankees' wish list is getting shorter and shorter. Help them, and me, out in the comments section below. And happy holidays to all.