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12/17/08 12:08 PM EST

Yankees may 'go hard' after Manny

Club reportedly could offer slugger three-year contract

NEW YORK -- The Yankees could use another powerful bat to protect Alex Rodriguez in their lineup. Manny Ramirez needs a new home. Could there be a match in pinstripes?

The New York Daily News cites a baseball official in its Wednesday editions who says that the Yankees view mercurial free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez as a perfect complement to Rodriguez, much the way Ramirez and David Ortiz terrorized pitchers for the Red Sox.

A large part of the Yankees' winter shopping already complete by inking CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to bolster the rotation, the official believes that the Yankees are "going hard" to sign Ramirez, to the point that they could offer him a three-year deal worth $22-25 million annually.

Two other officials indicate to the News that the Yankees would jump in right away on Ramirez, preferring to watch the market develop in the hopes they could sign him for two years rather than three. The Dodgers made a two-year, $45 million offer earlier this winter, but later withdrew it.

The News also cites a source close to the Yankees who says that general manager Brian Cashman is lukewarm on Ramirez, but that the front office in general, including Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, is bullish on the left fielder.

Hank Steinbrenner told the Associated Press last month that he admires Ramirez, a Washington Heights product who still leaves numerous passes for friends and relatives when his clubs have come to New York.

"Personally, I like Manny," said Steinbrenner, the Yankees' co-chairman. "He's one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game. He's a free spirit, for sure, but he knows how to win. We like some of the other guys, too. We just don't know yet."

The Yankees' outfield picture, as currently constituted, would have Johnny Damon in left field, Xavier Nady in right field and a Spring Training battle between Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner for center field, with Hideki Matsui largely serving as a designated hitter.

New York has engaged the Brewers in talks for a potential trade that would bring them veteran Mike Cameron to shore up center field, but those have reached a standstill -- perhaps as the Yankees decide if they would rather chase Ramirez instead.

Hot Stove
Ramirez is widely considered to be among the two most coveted free agents, along with fellow Scott Boras client Mark Teixeira, who is reportedly close to deciding his next club.

Ramirez lifted the Dodgers to the National League Championship Series after a midseason trade from the Red Sox, hitting .332 with 37 homers and 121 RBIs before batting .520 with four homers and 10 RBIs in eight postseason games.

Given that Teixeira will be just 29 in May and is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman, he will likely command a longer contract than Ramirez, who is 36.

It is likely that Ramirez and Boras will wait for Teixeira to pick a team, allowing them to negotiate with teams who missed on Teixeira and need a fallback option.

If Teixeira picks the Angels, then the Orioles and Nationals -- who were hoping to land the Maryland native -- may decide not to bid on Ramirez, to whom they have no ties.

Considering that Boston is not an option for Ramirez, the Yankees would then only have to outbid the Dodgers for the slugger's services.

New York has stayed engaged with the developing Teixeira situation -- Cashman met with Teixeira and Boras in Maryland before the Winter Meetings -- but the Yankees have thus far refrained from making an offer.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.