PITTSBURGH - The New York Yankees are bargain shopping.
Isn't that rich?
The wealthiest team in baseball is looking for players at a favorable price to plug some gaps that came about because of injuries to expensive players.
The Yankees will open the season with third baseman Alex Rodriguez ($29 million) on the disabled list as he recovers from hip surgery. First baseman Mark Teixeira ($22.5 million) will also be sidelined with a wrist injury.
Rodriguez could be back by July. The prognosis is less certain on Teixiera. He could miss the first eight to 10 weeks, but there's also the possibility he might require surgery, which would put him out for the season.
Even if Rodriguez is back on schedule, there's the issue of his diminishing skills and the possibility that he could be suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
So the corner infield spots are not exactly shaping up well for the Yankees, despite their $51.5 million investment in two players. You sign them, but the only guarantee is how much you have to pay them.
The Yankees tried to talk Derrek Lee out of retirement to take over at first base. Lee, you may recall, finished the 2011 season with the Pirates after they obtained him in a stretch-run trade. But he declined a 2012 contract offer from the Pirates, and also turned down the Milwaukee Brewers.
He told the Yankees he's not interested in a comeback. Lee made more than $91 million in a 15-year career and apparently thinks he has enough money. When you're sitting on that kind of fortune, the prospect of sitting through a rain delay in Cleveland on a Tuesday night in July becomes less appealing.
There were rumors the Yankees tried to lure Chipper Jones out of retirement to play third base. Jones said he was flattered by the offer, but had no interest in playing again.
The Detroit Tigers released underachieving outfielder Brennan Boesch, and the Yankees quickly signed him. They had earlier signed another outfielder, Ben Francisco, after he'd been dropped by the Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees are snapping up castoffs? What's next, an open tryout camp? Notices on craigslist?
A lot of teams go bargain hunting. You just don't expect the Yankees to be one of them.
Biding his time
Gerrit Cole wasn't happy when the Pirates sent him to minor league camp. That's good. His reaction shows he's a competitor.
But in addition to the obvious economic benefit in having him start the season at Class AAA Indianapolis, there's a baseball reason, too. Cole has pitched in only two games above Class AA, and he got pounded in one of them.
If he does well in the minor leagues, he'll be with the Pirates by June 1. Some more games at AAA can only help his development.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org