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With Granderson out, Yankees focus on Choo, Beltran

ORLANDO -- The Yankees breathed a collective sigh of relief when outfielder Curtis Granderson rejected their $14.1 million qualifying offer, and will now commence with their plan to sign an even bigger big-time outfielder to replace him.

Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are the top two stars they seek, targets 1 and 1A, according to a person familiar with their thinking, with Jacoby Ellsbury a hair behind the other two stars.

Choo and Beltran appear very popular on a market with fairly limited power. The Yankees also like top power-hitting catcher Brian McCann, on whom they are bidding.

The Yankees already have moved on from Granderson, who they believe struck out too much. The crosstown Mets have said they may be interested in Granderson, who is believed to have some interest in playing in his hometown of Chicago.

The reason Yankees GM Brian Cashman ultimately made a qualifying offer to Granderson is that he recalled how difficult it was for the Yankees to find power over the past year and wanted to earn a draft pick. Granderson and agent Matt Brown made comments suggested they'd consider the $14.1 million qualifying offer, but Brown ultimately told CBSSports.com he mostly wanted to be respectful of the Yankees and not just dismiss it out of hand.

Baseball people believe Granderson, who combined for an MLB high 84 home runs in 2011-12 but suffered two freak injuries last year, should be able to get a deal for three or four years even with a draft choice attached to his signing, as it is now.

By extending the qualifying offer, the Yankees will receive a first-round draft choice when Granderson signs elsewhere, just as they did with Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano.

 
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