In one of our daily email correspondences, Steve brought up the idea of signing Torii Hunter, and he, Moshe, and Mike E. were discussing the pros and cons. Out of no where, Dom brought up the idea of recent World
Series winner Angel Pagan as an option. Admittedly, I had no idea he was even a free agent and his name would certainly get lost in conversations about higher profile outfielders like Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, and Torii Hunter. After a quick glance at some of the particulars, I like Pagan a lot more than I thought I would.
At first look, Pagan appears to be no great shakes. His career batting line is .281/.333/.424, which is certainly not winning him any awards or putting him on a track for Cooperstown. He’s not very powerful, sporting a middling .143 Iso and doesn’t draw a ton of walks (7.4 career BB%) Pagan’s career wOBA is .329, good for a wRC+ of 104. Again, it’s better than average, but nothing great. Digging deeper, though, he’s played the majority of his career (464 out of a possible 663 games) in center field, and those numbers are just fine for a center fielder. Pagan’s also a good base stealer. He’s stolen 124 bases in his carer and been caught just 33 times. That works out to a SB% of 78.98, a very strong number. Pagan’s also a high contact hitter, sporting a career .318 BABIP and a low(er) strikeout rate of 14.7%.
One advantage the Yankees have always tried to exploit is that of the switch hitter. From Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada to Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, the Yankees have always had strong switch hitters in their lineup. Pagan certainly doesn’t have the power that those four players have, but he is a switch hitter and we saw the Yankees fall victim to lefties late in the 2012 season; the more this team can have a platoon advantage going forward, the better. However, Pagan does suffer from a bit of a platoon split. For his career, he only checks in at a 90 wRC+ against lefty pitchers. Against righties, though, he tallies a 109 wRC+, a touch better than his career number. Like Michael Kay always says, you want your switch hitters to be better lefty hitters since they’ll see more righty pitchers.
Given that he plays center field and is a switch hitter, Pagan is attractive. Add in that he makes good contact and steals bases–things the Yankees sometimes lack–and you’ve got a good value. While he may not be the strongest hitter against lefty pitching, that can be mitigated. There are platoon bat options like Scott Hairston or (yes even him) Andruw Jones who hit lefties well to offset Pagan. If you don’t want to go that route as signing two players for 1.5 spots is sort of annoying, you can roll with Pagan and still have a lineup that hits lefties well; after all, the Yankees will still have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Teixeira, Eduardo Nunez (yes, I just complimented him), and (likely) Russell Martin who all hit left handed pitching well.
There is, of course, the matter of the contract, and I have no clue what kind of deal Pagan could get or would be looking for. He’ll turn 32 in July of 2013 so I don’t think he’d get anything more than 3-4 years. Pagan made a $4.85M base salary last year along with $150K of PA bonuses. Given that, I’d say he can probably fetch something in the $10M AAV range on the market. Given that, I think I’d offer Pagan a contract for 3/$30M, with a club option for the fourth year, valued at $11M with a $1M buyout.
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