The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Free agent outfield candidates

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 07, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Brian Cashman says he’s looking for a, “right-handed hitting outfielder that Joe can look on the bench and say, I’m not going to start one of my left-handers, I’m going to start a right-hander.” Based on his previous moves this winter, we can assume Cashman wants a player on a one-year deal. Based on the fact he sees this spot as a bench role, we can assume he’s not willing to spend more than — I’m guessing here — $3 million or so.

Cashman could trade to fill the spot, but unless such a deal costs virtually nothing in terms of prospects, a trade seems unlikely. Cashman has been hesitant to deal young players, and he’s already traded away six of them this winter. Giving up a couple more to fill a bench spot? I just don’t see it. It’s certainly possible, but free agency offers enough options that a trade seems unlikely (in my opinion).

Wanted: One right-handed hitting outfielder who comes reasonably cheap. Defensive versatility a plus. One-year deal prefered. Enough big league time to be a justifiable upgrade over a Rule 5 pick. Quite a few players fit that description, including these free agents.

Rocco Baldelli
Opening day age: 28
Career splits vs. LHP: .295/.346/.485
Previous contract: One year, $500,000 with heavy incentives
Versatility: Primarily a CF, a lot of RF last year, three games in LF
There’s some injury risk with Baldelli, and he hasn’t played more than 92 games in a season since 2004, his second year in he big leagues. Hard to say how much speed he has left, he’s stolen only five bases the past three years. Still has some power, though.

Jermaine Dye
Opening day age: 36
Career splits vs. LHP: .287/.366/.505
Previous contract: Two years, $22 million
Versatility: Primarily a RF, some time in LF
Hard to say how much Dye might sign for this winter. The White Sox turned down an option to pay him $12 million. The Yankees are reported to be not interested, but Dye does swing right handed and still has legitimate power. Probably not a good match now that the DH spot is filled.

Jonny Gomes
Opening day age: 29
Career splits vs. LHP: .274/.369/.517
Previous contract: Minor league deal
Versatility: He’s played LF and RF, but primarily a DH
A lot of power and a lot of strikeouts from the right side. Not much of a defensive player, but he’s handled both corners in the past. With Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann on the team, there would be more than one late-inning defensive option.

Jerry Hairston Jr.
Opening day age: 33
Career splits vs. LHP: .264/.323/.386
Previous contract: One year, $2 million
Versatility: 62 games of experience at six positions
Easily the most versatile player on the list, Hairston could return to the Yankees strictly as a utility infielder or he could return as a legitimate option for regular starts in the outfield. He actually has much more big league time in the outfield than at either shortstop or third base. One of the lesser offensive options, though.

Reed Johnson
Opening day age: 33
Career splits vs. LHP: .313/.378/.463
Previous contract: One year, $3 million
Versatility: Considerable experience in LF, RF and CF
I’ve written before that this is my favorite of the group. His splits against lefties are outstanding, and his splits against right-handers aren’t crippling. He’s a nice player who could give all three outfielders a day off from time to time, and could step into an everyday role if necessary. Also has a lot of experience in the AL East, having spent five years with the Blue Jays. For whatever it’s worth, he also gets hit by a ton of pitches.

Melvin Mora
Opening day age: 38
Career splits vs. LHP: .268/.351/.454
Previous contract: Three years, $25 million
Veratility: Primarily a 3B with 344 games in the OF
Mora played quite a bit of outfield earlier in his career. He’s kind of an odd fit on this list, but assuming he could still play the outfield, he could meet the specifications, with the added bonus of being able to give Alex Rodriguez some days off at third. His numbers were pretty bad last year, but he had 104 RBI in 2008. Probably not a good fit, but worth listing just the same.

Xavier Nady
Opening day age: 31
Career splits vs. LHP: .308/.383/.471
Previous contract: One year, $6.55 million
Versatility: Both OF corners and 1B
In theory, this is a great fit. Nady’s a good hitter, who could play well above the discounted contract he’s sure to receive. But he’s also coming off a second elbow surgery and brings considerable risk. Can he still play the outfield? Can he still hit? If the Yankees can, Nady might be worth bringing back. If not, he might be as unreliable as the Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann.

Robb Quinlan
Opening day age: 33
Career splits vs. LHP: .299/.340/.456
Previous contract: One year, $1.1 million
Versatility: Mostly 3B and 1B, has also played LF and RF
I wasn’t going to include Quinlan, but his splits against lefties are surprisingly good. I honestly don’t know much about his defense, but the Angels used him at all four corners. Certainly not a big name, but he’s a career .281 hitter and is used to playing a role off the bench.

Fernando Tatis
Opening day age: 35
Career splits vs. LHP: .272/.351/.457
Previous contract: One year, $1.75 million
Versatility: Primarily a 3B, a lot of LF recently
After one huge year in St. Louis, Tatis has settled into a complimentary role. He has a little bit of power. He’s hit for a good average the past two years. He brings solid defensive flexibility, though I’m not sure he’s a great defensive player at any position. His splits against lefties are actually not that much better than his splits against righties.

Marcus Thames
Opening day age: 33
Career splits vs. LHP: .256/.329/.516
Previous contract: One year, $2.275 million
Versatility: Mostly LF, some time in RF and 1B
During the Winter Meetings, when news of the Curtis Granderson trade broke, the writer I was sitting next to immediately declared that the Yankees would end up signing a right-handed corner outfielder. He did a quick run through the Internet and announced his guess: Marcus Thames. It’s not a bad option considering the considerable power and experience in a part-time role. Thames was originally drafted by the Yankees but was then traded for Ruben Sierra.

Randy Winn
Opening day age: 35
Career splits vs. LHP: .280/.332/.426
Previous contract: Three years, $23.25 million
Versatility: At least 400 games at all three OF spots
Winn is a switch hitter, and he’s generally hit both lefties and righties pretty well (but he’s been a little better against RHP and was awful against LHP last year). He probably doesn’t work for two reasons. 1. He’s probably looking for a guaranteed starting job. 2. There’s not guarantee he’ll actually be cheap enough to fit the Yankees plans.




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