I used to think the Angels had too many outfielders on their team, then they went ahead and gave Josh Hamilton a five-year $125 million dollar deal. It makes Hamilton the second highest paid position player (AAV) in the game, right behind Alex Rodriguez. It also gives the Angels five potential starting outfielders. With Mike Trout, Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos under team control for at least the next four years, and Vernon Wells under control for the next two, surely the Angels have some outfielders to spare for the poor Yankees.
The Cashman and Ichiro Suzuki are supposedly finishing up the final touches on a 2 year $12/$13 million contract, and although that gives the team three viable starting outfields, I doubt they’ll be content with the roster. All three of Ichiro, Brett Gardner, and Curtis Granderson wield lefty bats, and even backup Chris Dickerson bats lefty, so as it stands, the team has very little depth in the outfield. Another cause for concern is their ability to stay on the field, since one of these starting outfielders only played 16 games last year, and the other is 39 years old.
If anyone has worries about aging players and platoon splits, it’s the Yankees’ and Joe Girardi‘s notebook. I don’t see anyway the team enters the season with four left handed outfielders. With Granderson off the books and Ichiro a 40 year old in 2014, the team’s best option would be a right handed bat with a good amount of cheap team control. The Angels have what the Yankees need, but how do the Yankees match up with the Angels?
As it stands, the the starting rotation in Anaheim is comprised of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson, Joe Blanton, and Jerome Williams. Garrett Richards, who’s started 12 major league games and struggled mightily, lines up as their 6th starter. Aside from Weaver and Wilson, the Angels should have very little faith in what they’ve setup with their starting rotation. Tommy Hanson‘s shoulder is about to fall off and Joe Blanton is capable of being Joe Blanton, meanwhile Jerome Williams could be lining up as their third starter. The team is likely looking for pitching, and the Yankees are fortunate to have a couple of surplus starters.
David Phelps and Ivan Nova are eyeing the 5th rotation spot for the Yankees, and a few months into the season, Michael Pineda will hopefully make his long awaited debut in pinstripes. That would give the Yankees 7 starting pitchers by mid-season or earlier, and although it’s good to stock up on backups, the free agent market is littered with one-year fifth starters. Phelps and Nova are expendable, and even Phil Hughes isn’t safe from hitting the trade block. What might be best for both teams, is to send pitching to Anaheims for one of Peter Bourjos or Mark Trumbo.
Bourjos is known for his speed and fielding, and is widely considered among the top defensive outfielders. The 25 year old lost his starting job to Mike Trout this season, and in only 195 plate appearances, he hit .220/.291/.315. The offensive numbers are abysmal, but in 2011, Bourjos hit a much more impressive .271/.327/.438 with 12 homeruns and 22 stolen bases. If 2011 is any indication of the type of player he is, Bourjos is comes from the same cloth as Brett Gardner, with similar speed, slightly less on base percentage, but slightly more power potential. He’ll likely never be a star hitter, but in 2011, he produced a 4.5 fWAR, and was on pace to do the same in 2012. For comparison’s sake, in Nick Swisher‘s best season, 2010, he put up just 4.1 fWAR.
Then there’s Mark Trumbo, another right handed bat, but with much more pop. Trumbo gets a lot of slack from most people for his low on base percentage, but with 61 home runs under his belt in his first two major league seasons, you can’t over look the offensive potential. From April 6th to July 17th of last season, Trumbo hit .311/.361/.634 with 26 home runs. As strong as he started out, Trumbo would finish the season with 251 plate appearances where he hit just .213/.259/.302 with just 6 home runs, 84 strikeouts, and 13 walks. It would appear that the league figured out how to pitch to the 26 year old, but if a team believes they know how to fix the holes in his swing, he could be a star hitter. There’s a lot of potential in his bat, but there’s also a lot of risk. Also, he’s awful in the outfield, but perhaps the short right field in Yankee Stadium will help his defensive metrics.
I see Trumbo being the hardest of the two to pry away from the Angels. They still have the option to keep Trumbo at DH and trade Kendrys Morales, who is only under team control for another year, so you’d have to add quite a bit to a package to make it worth their while.
The Yankees should have interest in one of these right handed bats, and they might even look to trade for some other pieces. Anaheim recently extended their starting catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year $15.55 million deal, which leaves the 24-year old switch hitting Hank Conger without a starting gig. Although Conger hit well in the minors, and showed off a good eye and few strikeouts, he’s struggled at the major league level. Conger has some potential with his bat, and PECOTA projects him to hit .260/.331/.407 with 14 homeruns in 2013.
Defensively, he doesn’t appear to have the greatest arm for a catcher, but he’s done a great job blocking the plate, allowing just one passed ball in his 585.0 innings. The Yankees are big on pitch framing, and although there’s little data to back up his performance, the Angels are well regarded for developing good framing catchers. Jim Bowden called his framing excellent at one point.
If the Yankees end up signing Ichiro Suzuki, acquiring Bourjos/Trumbo and Conger would answer to a lot of the issues the team’s roster currently faces. More important than the 2013 problems, a trade would answer many of the budget questions in 2014. The asking price shouldn’t be ridiculously high either, I’d say one of their starting pitchers and some mid-level prospects gets a deal done, though it could get more expensive depending on how the Angels value Trumbo.