Report: Yankees Targeting Shin-Soo Choo or Carlos Beltran, With Jacoby Ellsbury ‘a Hair Behind’

Carlos BeltranThe Red Sox would have been OK with their qualifying offers being accepted by Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and/or Mike Napoli. The Yankees apparently didn’t view their qualifying offer to outfielder Curtis Granderson in quite the same light.

The Yankees are breathing a sigh of relief that Granderson rejected their $14.1 million qualifying offer, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. New York is reportedly seeking an even bigger name to replace Granderson, with Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran at the top of its list.

Heyman reports that Choo and Beltran are “targets 1 and 1A” for the Yankees, with Ellsbury “a hair behind the other two stars.” Heyman notes that Choo and Beltran have become popular options on the free-agent market because of their power.

Choo hit .285 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs this season. The 31-year-old’s biggest asset is his on-base ability, as he posted a .423 on-base percentage, which ranked second in the National League behind teammate Joey Votto‘s .435 mark.

Beltran, who turns 37 in April, hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs this season. He smacked 32 dingers and racked up 97 RBIs in 2012, and is one of the game’s top postseason performers of all time.

Ellsbury hits free agency after spending his entire seven-year career in Boston. The 30-year-old hit .298 with nine home runs, 53 RBIs and an MLB-best 52 stolen bases in 2013.

The Yankees reportedly have moved on from Granderson, who — like the three other aforementioned outfielders — is a free agent. The idea of New York’s qualifying offer was to secure draft pick compensation when Granderson signs elsewhere. According to Heyman, it’s believed that Granderson, who hit an MLB-best 84 home runs in 2011-12, could land a three- or four-year deal on the open market.

The Yankees’ free-agent search isn’t limited to outfielders, either. The Bronx Bombers reportedly are bidding on top catcher Brian McCann as well.

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