The Yankees outfield will probably look vastly different next season than the players that will be starting this year. There are many different possibilities on who will be starting each of the positions. Nobody knows not even the Yankees who these players will be, allot will depend on individual performances this season.

One of the contributing factors will be free agency. With Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady all becoming free agents allot is up for grabs. Lets assume for the sake of argument that none of these players has a wow type season and just plays to their career averages. For Damon that would be hitting around .280 scoring around 100 runs,stealing 20-25 bases and having around 70-80 RBI’s. Not bad numbers but Damon is a poor defender with a weak arm and does not have the range at 35 that he had 10 years ago. If they were to resign him I would estimate it would be a 1 year deal and he would have to take a huge pay gut over the 4 year 52million dollar contract he is completing. Hideki Matsui came to the Yankees from Japan where he was known as Godzilla and was a very durable HR hitter. If Matsui were to return to a shell of the player he was before knee surgery he could bat .295 hit 25 HR with 100 Runs and 100 RBI’s. I think that’s a tall order from a 35 year old that looks like hes 45. His knee injury and subsequent surgery has likely ended his outfield days and permanently positioned him as a DH. With that position probably needing to be left open in the future for Jorge Posada. I vote on his return being unlikely. Nady is a bit of a wild card he had a great year in 2008 hitting .305 with 25 HR and 97 RBI’s combined between the Pirates and the Yankees. I don’t think that he will repeat that this season. But at 30 years old if he has a decent season say .290 with 20HR and 80 RBI’s he stands a chance. My thought is that he has decent trade value and could be dealt for one or more respectable prospects. Nady doesn’t run very well. Having played on 4 different teams in the last seven years my best guess is he will be playing for one more next season or perhaps before.

Next we look at the non-free agents Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera,Brett Gardner,and Austin Jackson. Austin Jackson is believed to be the real deal and the future CFer of the NY Yankees. The question that looms will be is he ready to play on the big stage in 2010 or will he need another season to develop. He is probably the most athletic player in the organization with speed,range,good defence,a strong arm and potentially decent power. His performance this year will determine how ready he will be. If there are no significant injuries I wouldn’t expect him to see any Yankee time until September call-ups. Nick Swisher had a horrible year last season and one would think he has no place to go but up. Nick will probably be the forth outfielder and backup first baseman this season and should get enough playing time to prove himself. He has decent power and should hit somewheres closer to .270 than his .219 in 2008. Melky Cabrera is likely to be gone soon. If he loses his CF position to Brett Gardner he is out of options and may be traded or Designated for assignment before the season ever begins. However the possibility does exist that he could be carried as a bat of the bench but this may be unlikely. Melky is a switch hitter with a great arm. However he takes bad routes when traking down fly balls and struggled at the plate last season. Brett Gardner is the favorite to win the CF battle this spring training. His greatest asset is his speed and ability to steal bases. He has great baserunning skills and decent defence. However he too struggled at the plate in 2008. In september he started to show signs of life with the bat and working under the guidance of Yankees hitting instructer Kevin Long has Carried that over into Spring training hitting .382 with 3 HR and 6 RBI’s with an OPS of 1.212.

Beyond these internal options there are a list of free agents next year that include: Jason Bay Carl Crawford – $10MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout Matt Holliday Rick Ankiel Coco Crisp – $8MM club option with a $500K buyout Jermaine Dye – $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout Brian Giles Ken Griffey Jr. Vladimir Guerrero Xavier Nady Magglio Ordonez – $15MM club/vesting option with a $3MM buyout Many if not most of these players will either resign with their current clubs or have their options picked up. But odds are a few of these guys may be looked at if Internal options don’t pan out. Lastly there is always the trade market. The Yankees have allot of talented pitchers in their farm system that would likely bring back a decent return.

Only time will tell whose names will be on that opening day roster in 2010. My guess is Swisher, Jackson and Gardner. Whats yours?