He isn’t nearly as big a priority as Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. But don’t be surprised if you hear the Yankees linked to free-agent utility man Bill Hall before the off-season is over.
Hall works out in the off-season with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. The Yankees could use a veteran utility player. And Hall is on a list of free agents in whom the Yankees have interest, major-league sources say.
The Yankees might be limited in their remaining payroll flexibility if they sign Lee, Jeter and Rivera. The Red Sox likely are in the same position – interested in Hall, but addressing other needs first.
Hall, who turns 31 on Dec. 28, batted .247/.316/.456 for the Red Sox last season, hitting 18 home runs in 344 at-bats. He played six defensive positions – all three in the outfield and every one in the infield but first base.
The Yankees would benefit from such versatility. Jeter turns 37 on June 26. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez turns 36 on July 27. Jorge Posada, 39, will be the primary DH.
Among free agents, Jerry Hairston Jr. is similar to Hall, but offers less power. Ty Wigginton is a player in whom the Yankees have had past interest, but played mostly at first last season. Hall appeared mostly in left and at second base, but third was his primary position in 2008 and ’09.
The Yankees did not carry a true backup at third last season, using Ramiro Pena as their utility infielder. Pena, Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird all represent young, affordable options in utility roles.
“We have a good utility guy in Pena,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “We think Eduardo Nunez will be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues, but he very well could be a utility guy for us. Laird plays first base, third base and outfield.
“Obviously, are there better veteran guys available in free agency or the trade market? Very probably, there are. But is that the best way to go? We’ll just have to wait and see.”