Alex Rodriguez is out for four to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery on Monday. Designated hitter Jorge Posada is hitting .122 as a right-handed batter, and barely plays against lefty pitchers anymore. Outfielder/DH Andruw Jones is hitting just .195 with four home runs.
The New York Yankees could use a right-handed hitter, whether it be a guy who can play the left side of the infield or a corner outfielder. Let's look at five potential targets.
Michael Cuddyer, Twins: If Minnesota (41-48, 6.5 games behind Detroit in the AL Central) ultimately decides to be a seller, Cuddyer is at the top of my list for guys the Yankees should target for some offensive help. He 32-year-old is in the final year of a four-year, $33.5-million contract. He can play right field, third base, first base and second base and offers a quality bat as well as the versatility. He is currently hitting .298 with 14 homers, 43 RBI and a .369 on-base percentage. Cuddyer offers the Yankees a quality bat, protection for Rodriguez if they need it and, possibly, protection in the event they decided not to retain Nick Swisher, who can be a free agent at the end of the season.
Jeff Keppinger, Astros: A versatile veteran utility type with a decent bat, Keppinger always seems to be available at the trade deadline. He has played all the infield positions except catcher and both corner outfield spots during his career. He is on an inexpensive one-year, $2.3-million contract. If the 30-62 Astros want to stock up on prospects, Keppinger could be had.
Hunter Pence, Astros: The Houston right-fielder has hit 25 home runs in each of the past three seasons. This season he is mashing away with a .323 average, 11 homers and 60 RBI. He is only 28, but he is arbitration eligible after his one-year, $6.9-million contract expires after this season. If the Astros are looking to save money while they rebuild Pence could bring in a nice haul of prospects.
Reed Johnson, Cubs: The 34-year-old Johnson has a line of .328/4/22/.370 so far this season. The Cubs are languishing in fifth place in the NL Central, and pretty much everyone has been rumored to be on the trade block at one time or another. Johnson is a .283 career hitter and a better defensive outfielder at this point than Andruw Jones. He would be a decent low-cost option.
Melky Cabrera: The Yankees know all about the switch-hitting Cabrera, who came up through their system and wore pinstripes from 2005 through 2009. Cabrera can play all three outfield positions, offers a decent bat and probably above average defense. You have to believe he would love a return to the Bronx. Cabrera is hitting a career-best .293 this season with 11 homers and 51 RBI. Cabrera is on a one-year, $1.25-million deal, but is arbitration eligible in 2012 and would likely be due a significant salary bump the last-place Royals might not be willing to pay.