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Lofton on the Move?


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Yanks investigate market for Lofton





April 16, 2004



The Yankees will consider trading Kenny Lofton over the next several weeks as a way to break up a centerfield-first base logjam that's about to get even more crowded when Travis Lee returns soon.


While they may not be technically shopping Lofton yet, the Yankees already have begun to investigate Lofton's potential trade market, sources on competing teams said. If the Yankees find a trade for Lofton before June 15, they will need Lofton's permission because he was signed as a free agent. Lofton's two-year, $6.2-million deal doesn't make him an easy man to move, in any case.


Asked last night about the possibility of trading Lofton to break up the logjam, general manager Brian Cashman said, "I wouldn't be able to say anything. Things will play out. It's like when we had six starting pitchers. Many times it gets dealt with for you."


When Lee, who played seven innings in the field in a Single-A game at Sarasota last night, returns from the disabled list in the next several days, hot rookie Bubba Crosby surely will be demoted to Triple-A Columbus to make room. However, Yankees people were extremely impressed by Crosby and now view him as the logical centerfield backup to Bernie Williams.


The current plan calls for Lee to see a lot of playing time at first base and Jason Giambi to do more DHing once Lee returns, which would leave only one starting spot for either Williams or Lofton. Lofton has already voiced some discomfort about having to DH, so it's logical to think he'd be even less comfortable with a bench role.


The idea to sign Lofton was a curious one in the first place, as Williams wasn't going anywhere. While Williams is returning from an injury-plagued year, he is still a plus offensively and adequate defensively. Some executives view Lofton as a slightly better defensive player, but Williams has the confidence of manager Joe Torre.



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