By Jay Jaffe
The Yankees have been depleted by injuries this spring, and while general manager Brian Cashman has insisted that the team will rely upon internal options when it comes to replacing Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira in the lineup during the opening weeks of the season, he's been working the phone lines as well. On Monday, he signed outfielder Ben Francisco to a minor league deal after the 31-year-old righty was released by the Indians, but apparently he was hunting even bigger game.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough, Cashman asked reporters for the phone number of B.B. Abbott, the agent for Chipper Jones. Never mind that the 40-year-old third baseman hung up his spikes at the end of last season after spending the entirety of his storied 19-year career with the Braves. Given that Jones showed he could still hit (.287/.377/.455 with 14 homers) right up until the end of his career, Cashman apparently thought he was an ideal — if rather fanciful — solution to his team's problems:
"I just talked to some guys with ESPN in the dugout... And I said, 'Do me a favor. I just looked up Chipper Jones’ agent and I didn’t have his number. If you tweet for me that I would have an interest, he would be perfect.' I said, it'll get to Chipper real quick and I'll hear back if he has any interest.”
The news traveled fast enough to provide a definitive resolution in short order. Abbott said that Jones wasn't biting: "I'll tell you what, [Chipper] has told me he is retired and not planning on coming back at all… I don't think New York is something he would consider but he would be flattered."
Via Twitter, Jones confirmed that stance. "Enough with the rumors! While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer."
Cashman admitted his hope of enticing Jones was a longshot, but he's said to have contacted at least two other inactive players as well: Derrek Lee and Scott Rolen. Lee is a 37-year-old who didn't play in 2012 after hitting .267/.325/.446 with 19 homers in 477 plate appearances for the Orioles and Pirates in 2011. Yankees special assistant Jim Hendry, the GM on the Cubs during Lee's time there (2004-2010), told Cashman Lee was "never not in shape."
Cashman also expressed an interest in 37-year-old third baseman Scott Rolen, who played for the Reds last year but was limited by injuries to a .245/.318/.398 line with eight homers in 330 plate appearances. Both the Reds and Dodgers expressed interest in Rolen over the winter, but he was unwilling to commit to either team, and is said to have turned down offers of $4 million from each. Derek Jeter thought Cashman should have aimed even higher. "He call Mike Schmidt, too?" he quipped. The 63-year-old Schmidt, last seen offering questionable evaluations of Michael Young's fitness for retirement and/or the Hall of Fame, was unavailable for comment.