Unfortunately, I don’t think a Pena signing is all that realistic. He’s in high enough demand from solid teams looking for starters who would probably be offering him more money and playing time than the Yankees will that I don’t think he’ll ultimately want to sign on to be a role player in New York. If anything, my guess is that Scott Boras is putting this out there to put some pressure on the Rays to get moving.
So what else is there? Well, there are other free agents out there, but I don’t know how attractive they really are. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez would be cheaper, but I don’t think they’d really provide a whole lot of value at this stage of their careers. Russell Branyan could fill the left-handed side of a platoon with Jones quite nicely if you think his 2011 season was just a blip (and he seems to enjoy playing at the new Yankee Stadium to boot, I might add). Ditto for Ryan Ludwick and J.D. Drew, though the latter would also have to overcome his affinity for the disabled list. All of those guys would make sense, and could probably be had for the right price if the Yankees think they can hit right-handers well in the coming campaign.
Some people will speculate that, after a few years of talking about it, the Yankees will finally go to a rotating DH of sorts, with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter spending a lot of time in the slot, but I don’t really think they’ll do that. It’s just not a very efficient allocation of resources, and it forces Eduardo Nunez and whatever other backup infielder they come up with to essentially become an everyday player, while crimping their flexibility with their bench. Besides, Jeter has some pretty noticeable platoon splits, so if he needs a rest, it would make more sense to just give him a few more regular days off against right-handed starters. A-Rod, on the other hand, may force the team’s hand if he can’t stay healthy going forward, but a big chunk of the value he provided last year came by way of his defense, so I don’t think the Yankees want to cross that bridge until they absolutely have to.
Of course, in keeping with the spirit of the past 30 hours, they could come up with an out of the blue acquisition no one really foresees right now. I saw RAB’s Mike Axisa bring up the old Dellin Betances-for-Dominic Brown swap rumors, which would be pretty awesome.
Then again, the answer to the question may lie closer to hearth and heart. Jorge Posada hasn’t officially retired yet, and he did hit .269/.348/.466 against right handers last year, better than Damon, Ludwick, Drew, Branyan, and pretty much all of the other stand out platoon options. Might Jorge take a modest salary and a strict platoon role for one more campaign with the Bombers? If he would, he may be the best man from the job from a sentimental and rational standpoint.