Just a few names that standout from yesterday’s long list of non-tendered players. To various degrees, these new free agents might make sense as targets for the Yankees. As always, that’s only true if the price is right.
LHP Jose Mijares
He’s a 27-year-old lefty, hence the potential match for the Yankees. Once upon a time Mijares was pretty highly touted, but his numbers are trending the wrong direction. He had a 0.87 ERA in a short big league stint in 2008, then a 2.34 in 2009, 3.31 in 2010 and 4.59 in 2011. Perhaps most importantly, lefties hit .253/.330/.368 against him last season, not nearly as good as the .155/.228/.252 they hit against him two years ago.
OF Ryan Spilborghs
He hit just .210 last year, and his splits the past two years have not been very good. But, Spilborghs is right-handed, he can play all three outfield positions, and he has a career .273/.357/.443 hitter against lefties, which isn’t too shabby. He could be a cheap alternative to that platoon outfield spot on the bench (but the Yankees are probably better off trying to get Andruw Jones to come back).
LHP Doug Slaten
Like a lot of these guys, any interest in Slaten would surely depend on the contract, but he’s a left-hander, and the Yankees are looking for left-handed depth. The bad news is that lefties hit .333/.368/.639 against Slaten last season. The more intriguing news is that lefties hit .151/.235/.151 against him in 2010.
LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
A lot of the lefties you see on this list fit a similar profile: Bad last year, good the year before. Kuo was knocked around last year, with lefties hitting .289/.396/.489 against him. In 2010, he held lefties to a .095/.159/.111 slash line.
INF Jeff Keppinger
He’s not quite at David DeJesus status, but Keppinger always seems to be a popular topic of emails and chats. He’s a nice player, with some defensive flexibility and a solid bat for a utility infielder. He would make sense for the Yankees primarily as a backup at third base — with the ability to play second, short and a little bit of the outfielder — but he’s coming off a .255/.285/.333 season that’s quite a bit below his career numbers. With Eduardo Nunez and possibly Hiroyuki Nakajima already in the mix, the Yankees don’t have a pressing need for Keppinger, but he’s a nice player who seems popular in some corners of the fan base.
LHP Joe Saunders
After paying him $5.5 million last year, the Diamondbacks cut ties with Saunders despite a solid 3.69 ERA through 33 starts last season. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but he throws from the left side — with decent career splits against lefties — and he had a few solid years in the American League when he was pitching with the Angels. Could be a back-of-the-rotation or a lefty/long reliever candidate if the price is right.
LHP Aaron Laffey
The Royals claimed Laffey off waivers from the Yankees in October, only to non-tender him in December. Some of Laffey’s potential value comes from the fact he’s a left-hander with rotation experience, meaning he could — in theory — serve as a second lefty and also a second long man. But the Yankees didn’t seem overly impressed the first time around, and I doubt they’d want him back on anything but a minor league deal.