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It had been all Tanaka and McCann and Beltran and Choo talk early on in Yankeeland until Mark Feinsand came out with a report yesterday afternoon on the Yankees and Cardinals working on a trade for Cards third baseman David Freese. Right around the same time, reports started trickling out that the team was working on re-signing Brendan Ryan and suddenly it looked like it was going to be a multi-pronged attack to address the
Freese, while not the all-world player his 2011 postseason made him out to be, would have made sense for the Yankees as third base insurance for A-Rod. He's a right-handed hitter with a .286/.356/.427 career slash line (.345 wOBA) and while he won't garner any Fielding Bible Award votes at the hot corner, he's not a complete disaster defensively. At 31 and coming off a down and injury-filled year in 2013, Freese was a textbook "buy low" trade target and even with 2 years of team control remaining he probably could have been had for a modest prospect return.
Therein lies the problem. The Yankees don't have much to offer St. Louis by way of prospects, at least not the type that fit the Cardinals' needs. None of the Yankee outfield prospects are close to being Major League-ready and Cash wouldn't have entertained the idea of trading Brett Gardner for Freese only to create another hole on his roster. The Cards could use help at shortstop, but the chances of them taking Eduardo Nunez off New York's hands for Freese were nil. Later in the evening Ken Rosenthal reported that a deal was unlikely because of the lack of trade piece matches and for now the Freese deal appears dead.
It would have been a nice pickup for the Yankees. They could have kept the payroll manageable with Freese not commanding much in salary next season, they wouldn't have had to give up as much as they would if they were still serious about going after Chase Headley, and they would have been covered at third base next year no matter what ends up happening with A-Rod's appeal. Looks like the lack of high-level MiL talent came back to bite them again.