Yesterday, we covered the possible left handed DH options for the Yankees in 2013, and today we’ll look at the right handed options.
Unlike the possible re-signing situation we have with Raul Ibanez, there is really no chance that Andruw Jones gets an offer to remain in pinstripes. As I pointed out yesterday, both Ibanez and Jones faced a lot of extra playing time in the outfield due to Brett Gardner‘s injury. Both players started the season out on strong notes, but by the time July and August hit, they looked ready for retirement. Up until the All Star break, Jones put together a strong season with a .244/.326/.535 triple slash. From July 13th to the end of season, Jones hit much like Ibanez, earning a .142/.256/.255 slash. Unlike Ibanez, Jones couldn’t recover in the month of September, and he was ultimately left off the playoff roster.
After a year and a half of incredible production with the Yankees, Jones ended the season so poorly that this is likely the end of his days playing in the Bronx. With the Yankees setting their sights on one year deals, they’ll need to replace his right handed hitting production with someone new. Here’s a few guys that will be available this offseason.
Mike Napoli C/1B- (2012 v. LHP .179/.295/.411 wRC+ 79) The Yankees have already been linked to him, and I gave him his own article last week. Napoli may have posted a weak platoon split last season, but over his career he’s held a wRC+ of 141, good for a .273/.381/.529 triple slash.
He’s obviously coming off a weak contract season, so he’d possibly accept a big one year deal to relinquish his value for next offseason. Keeping that mind, he’ll still demand plenty of money, much more than the $2 million that Jones received in 2012. With his ability to hit both lefties and righties, as well as fake it behind the plate, Napoli has some versatility as an everyday DH and backup catcher.
Juan Rivera OF- (2012 v. LHP .260/.312/.433 wRC+ 106) Over his career, Rivera has a 115 wRC+ and .286/.333/.489 slash line against left handed pitchers. His 2012 season was held to just 339 plate appearances after a hamstring issue cut into his time and ultimately forced him into a pinch hitter position for the Dodgers.
The one time Yankee doesn’t have huge numbers against lefties, but he also doesn’t have a major platoon split. Rivera can also play a decent outfield, which is a plus if the current plan has Ibanez as a 4th outfielder again. The Dodgers declined Rivera’s $4 million option this offseason, which means he’ll end up signing for less than that.
Jason Bay OF- (2012 v. LHP .172/.264/.301 wRC+ 59) In case you’ve been living under a rock, Bay was bad for the Mets. How bad was he? Jason Bay was so bad, that the Mets are paying him $21.125 million to not play for them. The outfielder will be 34 years old next season, and although he’s had a few rocky and injury laden seasons, Bay sports a career 133 wRC+ and a .275/.386/.502 slash line against lefties. He’s also not so bad against righties, who he’s hit for a 118 wRC+. Bay can handle the outfield better than Jones did, though he’s nothing more than an average outfielder. Whether he wants to remain in New York is another matter, but I couldn’t imagine the asking price is very high.
Scott Hairston OF- (2012 v. LHP .286/.317/.550 wRC+ 135) Just like Napoli, the Yankees have already been linked to Hairston, and I’ve already given him his own article. He’s another ex-Met, except this one had a surprisingly good season. Hairston has always hit lefties well with his 119 wRC+, but he can look helpless against righties. You also have to worry about his ability to get on base, which is pretty abysmal most of the times. This said, Hairston has the best outfield defense on this list, though he’s nowhere near elite. He earned a big spotlight in New York though, and he may receive full-time, and possibly multi-year offers.
Mark Reynolds 3B- (2012 v. LHP .227/.352/.370 wRC+ 101) Technically he’s not a free agent yet, but the Orioles have already declined his 2013 option, and the rumors say that the organization will non-tender the third baseman. Reynolds has always shown a massive amount of power without an ability to hit for average. Fortunately, the man knows how to take a walk, and over his career he’s hit lefties for a 123 wRC+ and a .240/.367/.490 slash.
He’ll be 29 years old next season, and although he may receive offers to play full time from other teams, Reynolds maybe drawn to New York with the way he’s dominated Yankee Stadium with a 1.122 OPS. He can probably be viewed as more an Eric Chavez replacement, but as a backup corner infielder, Reynolds has the pop in his bat to be worthwhile as a DH.
Geovany Soto C- (2012 v. LHP .239/.302/.375 wRC+ 82) This one is a little out there. Again, Soto is a player who’s waiting to be non-tendered, but the Rangers have already started their hunt for another catcher. As recently as 2011, Soto destroyed lefties with a 167 wRC+, and over his career he’s hit them with a 136 wRC+. The 2008 rookie of the year was once considered a top catcher in the game, but last year he fell vitcim to a .222 BABIP. (He owns a .289 career BABIP) While his batted ball rates stayed the same, his line drives only became hits less than 60% of the time, which was amongst other low averages on his ground balls and fly balls. It’s a good indication that he was unlucky in 2012, and even if Soto repeats a down 2011 season, he’ll likely demolish lefties again.
He’s a buy low candidate with the upside of a very average everyday defensive catcher and offensive force. It’s hard to see him as a replacement for Jones’ DH bat, but perhaps Soto needs time away from catching to reclaim his offense.