This past weekend, two slightly odd things about the Yankees and their outfield situation were reported. After they inked Ichiro Suzuki to a two year deal (something I’m not entirely a fan of, but that’s really neither here nor there), we learned that the Yankees had talked to the Angels about a trade involving Vernon Wells. I won’t bore you with details about his fall from ‘grace’; you all know how bad he’s been since signing that big contract with the Jays years ago. But despite Wells’ general horridness, I think it’s worth taking a look at whether using him in a certain role (assuming, of course, that the Angels ate the vast, vast majority of that albatross of albatrosses of a contract). That role would be the role held by Andruw Jones in 2011 and 2012. After all, Wells is a righty hitter and should be able to handle a platoon, right? Let’s take a look…
As recently as 2011, Wells had an outstanding 134 wRC+ against lefty pitchers. But in the years before and after that, he’s been, well…2009: 55. 2010: 67. 2012: 88. The only silver linings in some of those numbers is that he had decent walk rates in 2009, 2010, and 2012 and acceptable Iso numbers in 2010 and 2012. There is literally nothing desirable here. Even if the Angels ate the entirety of Wells’ salary and didn’t take a player back from the Yankees, I’d still be hesitant about bringing Wells in. Everyone is an option at the right price, but I think Wells is an exception to that. Thankfully, we’re hearing this well after the fact as these supposed discussions regarding Vernon took place at the Winter Meetings; obviously nothing happened, and I doubt anything will.
I’d consider the Michael Bourn situation somewhat analogous to the Wells situation. While Bourn is obviously a much more desirable candidate, this seems like a “smoke-without-fire” situation. The only way it makes sense is if the Yankees go ahead and make a trade involving their current man in center field, Curtis Granderson. That strategy is flawed no matter how you look at it. If you trade Granderson with the expectation that Bourn will sign, you risk Bourn signing with someone else. If you sign Bourn before trading Granderson (and why would you do this?), you almost guarantee that you’d get a minuscule return for Granderson since you’d absolutely reek of desperation.
Regardless of what me may here in the coming days regarding the Yankees being connected to them, I think the team is definitely done shopping for outfielders. The club seems content to go into the season with an outfield alignment of Brett Gardner/Granderson/Ichiro. And while that may not be wholly satisfying, it’s better than any alignment that includes Bourn or Wells.