NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kevin Youkilis in, gulp, pinstripes?
That one-time improbability became possible Thursday when, on the final day of the winter meetings, the Yankees offered the former Red Sox third baseman a one-year, $12-million contract, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Even if Youkilis signs with the Yankees, they will look for additional help at the position, preferably a lefthanded hitter.
"You can't run him out there 150 games," one talent evaluator said of Youkilis, about whom there are durability concerns.
Still, as another scout said of the third-base market and Youkilis' place in it: "Best option by far. And I like him there [in New York] more than Reynolds."
Mark Reynolds is another third baseman -- albeit one with a much stronger bat than glove -- with whom the Yankees have talked. They've also had contact with Jack Hannahan, whose profile is the opposite of Reynolds'.
At a fundraiser for his Youk's Kids charity Thursday night in Boston, Youkilis told The Providence Journal, "I've got good choices. I can't deny it -- I have good choices and good people. That's all I can give you on that one. Any time anyone wants you, that's a good choice. Some guys are sitting at home and want a job and not getting it.''
Are the Yankees one of those choices? Said Youkilis, "I can't comment on any of that stuff right now.''
Before leaving the winter meetings here, general manager Brian Cashman would not confirm the offer to Youkilis. He did say the Yankees never made offers of any kind to Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger, two players they were interested in who came off the board Wednesday.
"There's a lot of time between now and first pitch," said Cashman, under orders to bring the payroll to $189 million by 2014. "There's no games tomorrow so we're going to keep going at it. Having patience isn't a bad thing, either."
The Yankees' attempt to lower their payroll and their relatively inactive winter meetings garnered headlines all week. But some of the hysteria ignored three points:
In the last year, the Yankees have made no secret about their payroll goals, which, if met, will allow them to avoid luxury-tax penalties. It's not breaking news.
Cashman has shown more patience in recent offseasons, at the winter meetings in particular. The blockbuster deal in which Curtis Granderson was obtained three winter meetings ago was the exception, not the rule.
Just about everyone agrees that this free-agent class is a weak one. Not paying a bit more for Russell Martin, who signed a two-year deal with the Pirates, might come back to bite the Yankees, but is their offseason really considered a bust because Keppinger and Chavez signed elsewhere?
"I'm not afraid of January, I'm not afraid of February," Cashman said of waiting out the trade and free-agent markets.
While the Yankees' need for a third baseman drew most of the attention after the announcement that Alex Rodriguez will be lost until at least midseason because of hip surgery, there are other areas of need.
Cashman has maintained that catcher is likely to be filled from within -- Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine are on the 40-man roster -- and Ichiro Suzuki and Scott Hairston are among the free-agent options in right. Ichiro has expressed his preference to play for the Yankees in 2013 and Hairston has been high on the Yankees' list all offseason.
"We have spent money," Cashman said, referencing the one-year deals reached with pitchers Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. "So I don't feel like we're not having a productive winter. I feel like we are being deliberate, we are being slow. You miss opportunities, that stuff happens, but when the dust settles, we're going to be a team that people aren't going to be comfortable playing and a team I think, as long as we stay healthy, we're going to be in position to take another shot at the division title and obviously something even bigger after that."