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12/06/12 11:15 AM ET
Yankees eye Reynolds, Youk as market tightens
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Yankees expected that a major part of their stay at the Winter Meetings would revolve around obtaining a replacement for injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez. It hasn't seemed to be the easiest assignment for general manager Brian Cashman, but the Yankees have continued to search, most recently turning their interest to free-agent slugger Mark Reynolds. According to a source, the Yankees met with Reynolds' agent on Wednesday -- Cashman's latest attempt to navigate a third-base market that the GM has called "a very limited sandbox to play in." The Yankees also held a second day of discussions with the agent of former Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis, making a one-year, $12 million offer, according to a source. Youkilis could be willing to come to the Bronx for one year, but he has also drawn serious interest from the Indians. It has become a common refrain that these Winter Meetings have seemed much too quiet for the Yankees, as they've seemed allergic to multiyear contracts, hamstrung by ownership's mandate to reduce payroll below $189 million for the 2014 season. New York watched on Wednesday as third baseman Eric Chavez, a player they had interest in retaining, signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the D-backs. Jeff Keppinger, another Yankees target, landed with the White Sox for three years and $12 million. "We talked about possibly a platoon situation; those were two names that we talked about," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. While the Yankees have stated that there is no reason they shouldn't be able to build a contending club on a budget, agent Scott Boras expressed doubt that the club's movement -- or lack thereof -- was bringing them closer to a 28th World Series title. "I think the model to be a Goliath is wholly different than the approach they're taking," Boras said. Boras went on to suggest that the 2014 rebate incentives may not actually help teams like the Yankees as much as initial projections suggested, not with clubs like the Nationals, Braves and Blue Jays proving to be successful franchises. With that in mind, it is always possible that managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner could reverse course and scrap their plan to cut payroll. For the moment, the Yankees seem to be in a financial holding pattern. "[Cashman] just basically said he's not in on a lot of players," Boras said. "He would like to be in on more, but right now he's working with ownership to see where he can go. I don't think any final decisions have been made, but at this point in time, he's working through it." That may be why the Yankees were never close to agreements with Chavez or Keppinger, though New York has liked Keppinger's versatility for some time and enjoyed having Chavez, who filled a reserve role backing up Rodriguez and first baseman Mark Teixeira in 2011 and '12. "He had success for us, especially against right-handers last year," Girardi said of Chavez. "You have to start thinking about, 'What do you do next?' When guys go off the board and you have considerations about who you want, you have to start thinking about it." So now the Yankees appear to be setting their sights upon Reynolds and Youkilis, needing an A-Rod replacement potentially until June or July. They also have to fill a corner-outfield spot -- Nate Schierholtz, Scott Hairston, Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez are on their radar -- and perhaps behind the plate, though Cashman and Girardi say they expect to go with the crop of catching they already have. The free-swinging Reynolds, 29, was non-tendered by Baltimore after batting .221 with 23 home runs and 69 RBIs in 135 games this past season, playing 108 games at first base and 15 games at third base. He was a Yankees killer, hitting seven homers with 14 RBIs against Bombers pitching in 2012. He has played mostly third base in his big league career, and earned $7.5 million this year. Reynolds is seeking a similar salary for '13, but a source said he is amenable to a one-year contract. The Yankees also aren't out on Youkilis, who will turn 34 in March and hit .235 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 122 games with Boston and the White Sox in 2012. But Youkilis, an Ohio native, could find the opportunity to play in Cleveland under manager Terry Francona too appealing to turn down. The Yankees do not believe they have an in-house candidate to step in for Rodriguez, though they could consider trying Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez at third base. Prospects David Adams and Ronnier Mustelier are also waiting for a shot in the farm system. "Right now, we don't know who's going to play right field and we don't know who's going to play third base," Girardi said. "Those are big power positions, usually -- guys that put up big numbers -- and we have to find a way to produce that."