The New York Yankees today acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Washington Nationals in exchange for right-handed minor league pitcher Adam Olbrychowski.
Maxwell, 27, has appeared in 122 career Major League games over three seasons with Washington (2007, ’09-10), compiling a .201 (44-for-219) batting average with nine home runs and 26 RBI. He entered the 2010 season ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the Nationals organization, hitting .144 (15-for-104) with three home runs and 12 RBI in 67 games at the Major League level in 2010. He also appeared in 66 games with Triple-A Syracuse, batting .287 (66-for-230) with 17 doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI. The Maryland native was selected by Washington in the fourth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Olbrychowski, 25, combined to go 3-2 with a 3.90 ERA (67.0IP, 29ER) in 32 games (one start) with Double-A Trenton and Single-A Tampa in 2010. He spent the majority of the season with Tampa, where he went 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA (62.2IP, 28ER), before being promoted to Trenton on September 1.
To make room on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, outfielder Jordan Parraz was designated for assignment.
UPDATE, 2:55 p.m.: When Maxwell was designated for assignment, I wrote that he might be an interesting addition for the Yankees, but I wasn’t sure he’d fit because Parraz was already on the roster.
His big league numbers aren’t much, but Maxwell can play all three outfield positions, and he has a little bit of speed and power. Three years ago, when Baseball America ranked him as a Top 10 prospect in the Nationals system, they noted that Maxwell, “garners comparisons to Mike Cameron for his speed/power mix and inability to hit for average.”
That might be what he is: A young, poor man’s version of Cameron. He’s probably not an everyday guy on a team like the Yankees, but he has enough going for him to be a complimentary piece off the bench. Nothing against Parraz — who I’ve never met and have never seen — I’d rather have a guy who hit .287/.390/.439 last year in the pitcher-friendly International League (Maxwell) than a guy who hit .266/.350/.410 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (Parraz).
It’s basically an upgrade of fifth outfielder options, and it came at the cost of a guy who’s buried in this system. Olbrychowski might develop into a solid reliever, but he was pretty low on the depth chart for the Yankees.
By the way, I was just told that Maxwell has a fourth option year, so he can be sent to the minor leagues this season if he doesn’t make the big league roster.
Associated Press photo of Maxwell