After numerous reports, it seems that the Yankees are at least discussing the idea of signing Andruw Jones to fill their fourth outfielder opening. Jon Heyman has reported that the two sides are talking, but they disagree on money. Based on the current free agent market, what might Jones be worth?
The facts: Jones is about to turn 34 years old. He signed a $500,000 deal with significant incentives last season, He’s a one-time superstar center fielder turned role-playing corner outfielder. Offensively, he’s largely an all-or-nothing power hitter who fits the Yankees need for a right-handed bat who can hit lefties.
Last season: .230/.341/.486
vs. LHP in 2010: .256/.373/.558
It’s pretty much impossible to find a perfect comparison, but to some extent, these players might help create a market for Jones.
Right-handed platoon outfielder
2 years, $4.25 million
One of the first outfielders to come off the board this offseason, Diaz is one year younger than Jones and has hit lefties to a .335/.373/.533 slash line in his career. He was close to an everyday player just two years ago and put up a .313/.390/.488 line that season. He’s coming off a .250/.302/.438 season, but he maintained a .273/.318/.512 split against lefties.
Similar hitter, different position
1 year, $2.5 million
Still in his late 20s, Encarnacion is a third baseman, not an outfielder, but he hit .244/.305/.482 last season, which is awfully close to Jones’ slash line. Even Encarnacion’s splits — .234/.367/.547 against lefties last year — are similar to Jones. Age is what really makes this a difficult comparison, but the offensive numbers are pretty close.
Similar player, opposite side of the plate
1 year, $1.45 million (with club option for 2012)
Hasn’t played much infield the past few years. At this point he’s primarily a corner outfielder, and he hit .256/.338/.456 last season. He and Jones are less than four months apart in age. They have remarkably similar career batting averages and on-base percentages, with Jones showing a higher slugging percentage. In his career, Hinske has hit .261/.346/.454 against right-handers. He’s rarely used against lefties.
Former everyday player turned role player
1 year, $1 million
A strange comparison because Burrell has suddenly shown reverse splits the past two seasons. That said, Burrell’s slash line last year was .252/.348/.469, and his career slash line is .254/.362/.475. Both are very similar to Jones. I feel confident saying Jones is a better defensive player, but Burrell signed with a National League team, so obviously he’s not considered a DH.
Melky Cabrera, 1 year, $1.25 million
Austin Kearns, 1 year, $1.3 million
Rick Ankiel, 1 year, $1.5 million plus significant incentives
Just a glimpse at the basic fourth outfielder market. None of these has Jones’ power. I guess Ankiel is the most similar hitter to Jones, but he bats from the opposite side of the plate and is able to play a solid center field. Kearns is the most similar defensive player but without nearly the same power from the right side. Cabrera took a significant pay cut after making $3.1 million in 2010. Its worth noting that Tony Gwynn Jr. was given a contract that guarantees $675,000. Clearly Jones is going to make more than last season. It’s a question of how much more.