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New York Yankees Prepping for Robinson Cano Departure

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COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees have begun kicking the tires on potential replacements for Robinson Cano, should the second baseman decide to flee the Bronx.

Let's take a look at some of the options:

Brandon Phillips

Jon Heyman of reported Tuesday that the Yankees have reached out to the Cincinnati Reds about Phillips' availability. While he is certainly on the market, Heyman notes Phillips won't come cheap. Heyman may mean this is literally and figuratively, meaning Phillips is owed $50 million over the next four seasons and the Reds will want an attractive package of prospects in return.

Phillips is considered by outsiders a malcontent off the field and will turn 33 in June 2014. While Phillips managed to drive in 103 runs in 2013, his .706 OPS and 92 OPS+ were the lowest since his rookie season in 2003. OPS+ is a normalized measure adjusted for small variables such as ballpark effect where league average is 100.

Phillips remains an above-average fielder, but his offensive production seems to already be in decline and that combined with a poor attitude, a long-term commitment and hefty salary seems like a poor fit.

Omar Infante

Infante's name was mentioned by the New York Post on Nov. 3 as a free agent the Yankees have reached out to about filling Cano's shoes should he walk. Infante, a 12-year veteran, is projected to earn a three-year, $25 million contract, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. Infante posted a career-high .795 OPS (113 OPS+) in 2013 bouncing back from disappointing performances in 2011 and 2012 at the plate (90 and 91 OPS+, respectively).

Infante, who will be 32 when the 2014 season begins, is adept in the field and carries with him a good reputation as a teammate. Infante's salary would be significantly less expensive than Phillips', and signing him would not cost prospects or a draft pick, making Infante an alluring choice.

Howie Kendrick

Heyman briefly mentioned Kendrick as another trade option for the Yankees. Kendrick has two years and $18.85 million left on his current deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Kendrick, 30, posted impressive numbers in 2013 despite missing 40 games. In 513 plate appearances, Kendrick knocked 13 home runs and registered a .775 OPS (118 OPS+). He has a career line of .292/.329/.429 and OPS+ of 107 during his eight MLB seasons.

Kendrick is an above-average fielder and his biggest knock could be his ability to stay on the diamond, as he's played 150+ games in a season just once. Kendrick, like Phillips, would require some fairly good prospects from the Yankees.

There is a host of other players the Yankees could turn to should none of the above be viable and of course assuming Cano leaves. But these are the three players that make the most sense insofar as getting the best overall production available at second base after Cano.

Considering the overall costs (including the loss of prospects) and fact that none of these players are significantly better than the others, the Yankees would be wise to pursue Infante the hardest. If Infante was not available, a move for Kendrick would be better than Phillips, who I would stay far away from regardless of the situation.

I, like many others, believe Cano will end up back with the Yankees, but the fun of the MLB Hot Stove season is tossing around other options. Who do you think is the Yankees' best option after Cano?

Chris Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor. He is a New York Yankees contributor published on Yahoo Sports and has previously written and edited content for several online sports publications. Chris is also the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo. For more baseball and sports commentary you can follow Chris on Twitter.
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