In his Baseball Never Ends post from yesterday, Moshe laid out a rather large list of free agents he thinks the Yankees will, at the very least, be in on. I’m going to examine that list a little more closely and see what each guy could bring to the team.
Derrek Lee: His value is down after a career worst year. He still managed to hit to a .340 wOBA, though. His walk rate was over his career mark by a bit, but it was his power that suffered. For the Yankees, I can’t imagine Lee doing much more than being the DH vs. left handed pitching. He had a .345 wOBA vs. LHP in 2010, though that mark is a much higher .407 for his career. I don’t think Lee is very realistic for the Yankees. He’s still good enough to start somewhere and will probably use 2011 as a springboard to another contract. Look for Lee to sign somewhere he can start.
Ty Wigginton: The Yankees have been linked to him a lot and they could land him for a utility spot. Like Lee, though, he’ll look for a place in which he can start. Unlike Lee, he’s coming off of an up year…or at least what looks like one. He was hot in April (.432) and May (.375) but from June through the end of the season, Ty’s wOBA never cracked the .295 mark. I’ve always said to pass on this guy and I’ll continue to say it.
Xavier Nady: 2011′s Marcus Thames? I wouldn’t consider bringing him in on anything guaranteed, but on a minor league deal/Spring Training invite? Sure, why not? He didn’t have an even remotely decent 2010 so his value should be pretty low. He could add a bit more than Thames since he wouldn’t be a statue out there.
Jerry Hairston, Jr.: We’ve seen this movie before. It’s not awful, but it’s not worth going to see in the theater. A minor league invite would suffice for Hairston, too. I’d rather see cheap, internal bench options get a shot first. I say that for J-Hair instead of Nady because Nady’s bat has more upside.
The LOOGYs: I’m sure the Yankees will be linked to a lot of these guys at some point, especially Scott Downs. He’s definitely the best candidate, but it’s silly to give up a draft pick for a reliever (Downs is a Type A free agent). None of them are particularly attractive, though I wouldn’t mind kicking the tires on and making a competitive offer for Brian Fuentes.
Jake Westbrook and Hiroki Kuroda: These two will definitely be back up plans for the Yankees in terms of starting pitchers. Obviously, the Yankees will look to Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte first to fill up the rotation. After that, I think they’d explore the trade market and their internal options. Only after possibilities have been exhausted do I see them pursuing Kuroda or Westbrook.
Joaquin Benoit: I think he stays with Tampa to close. He’ll probably be cheaper than Rafael Soriano and I see the Rays locking him up early.
Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth: The media will try to tie these two to the Yankees every chance they get. They’re the two best hitters on the market so it’s always easy to link those guys to the Bombers. The thing is, though, that unless a trade is made, neither one of these guys has a spot on the Yankees. Some may want to trade Nick Swisher to make room for Jayson Werth, but that’s not a good move. Swisher’s much cheaper, is younger, has a better health track record, and isn’t that much worse than Werth. Crawford could also fit, but only if Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson is traded. I don’t see the latter being traded–his value is low now but he’s also still a power hitter at a premium position which is valuable. Gardner could be traded as part of a package for a starting pitcher, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. When Spring Training starts, I doubt we see either one of these guys playing for the Yankees.
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