Yankees Deal From Depth, Flex Financial Muscle This Winter





NEW YORK—To fulfill the contracts of Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez, the Yankees owe them a combined $43 million.

So to believe that New York's key offseason additions didn't come with a financial price tag is misguided. However, two of those three were acquired in trades that didn't devastate a minor league system more notable for depth than impact talent.

Sure, center fielder Austin Jackson, who was dealt to the Tigers in a three-team deal with the Diamondbacks that delivered Granderson to the Bronx, hit .300 in Triple-A. Evaluators inside the organization, however, weren't sure what type of big leaguer the 22-year-old would become.

Jackson's supporters believed he could be ready by mid-2010 at the earliest—but his power is in question after he connected for just four homers in 132 games. Lefty reliever Phil Coke led the team in appearances and contributed in the playoffs, while righthander Ian Kennedy, who went to Arizona, was the Yankees' first-round pick in 2006. He missed most of last year with an aneurysm near his right shoulder.

Despite his preference for retaining young talent, general manager Brian Cashman could not pass on the chance to acquire Granderson.

And when the Braves asked for Melky Cabrera, the 25-year-old starting center fielder, lefty reliever Mike Dunn and 19-year-old righthander Arodys Vizcaino for Vazquez, Cashman had little choice but to make that deal, too.

The 33-year-old Vazquez, who went 15-10, 2.87 last year for the Braves, will supply depth to a star-studded rotation. His acquisition could relegate Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes to the bullpen on a full-time basis.

The door to a lefty situational role opened briefly for Dunn after Coke was traded. But the converted outfielder, a 2004 33rd-round draft-and-follow from the CC of Southern Nevada, soon followed Coke out the door. Now with Coke and Dunn departed, Boone Logan, acquired from Atlanta with Vazquez, stands to complement Damaso Marte in the Yankees' lefty relief corps.

YANKEE DOODLES

• The Yankees released a raft of players in late December, a list that included 2008 fifth-round pick Chris Smith and 2004 second-rounder Brett Smith.

• New York signed veteran minor league outfielder Jon Weber, who spent the last three seasons with Triple-A Durham in the Rays organization.