Time To Trade For An Outfielder

There’s a lot to say about this year’s offseason, but most of it is far from positive. The Yankee front office typically aims for a 95 to 100 win team, but this year it looks like they may barely get to 90. Will it be enough? We won’t know until the season is over, but no AL East team looks exceptionally good. Even with the current roster, most reports have the Blue Jays or the Yankees as favorites.

Reuters

The Yankees usually go above and beyond to put together a team that’ll leave the rest of the division far behind them, but they’ll lose $20+ million in payroll in 2014, and they have filled a lineup with one year deals and minor league gambles in preparation.  To replace Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees brought in Kevin Youkilis, Bobby Wilson, Shawn Kelley, Juan Rivera, and Matt Diaz. Needless to say, the front office has brought in some disappointing replacements.

Now with Curtis Granderson out for at least the first month of the season, the Yankees have no major league third outfielder on their 40 man roster. The three outfielders outside of Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki are Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, and Ramon Flores. Of these three, only Mesa has played above Double-A, where he hit .230/.271/.524 in 133 plate appearances. Though the outfielder has some pop, he is awful at drawing walks, and last year in Triple-A he struck out 43 times next to his 7 walks.

There are also outfield options on minor league deals that could make the team. As I mentioned earlier, Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz are available, have some upside, though both couldn’t crack an on base percentage higher than .290 in 2012, and their slugging was equally awful.

I haven’t heard much about him from the media, but perhaps the highest upside player is Thomas Neal. Through the Giants farm system, Neal was a highly touted prospect up until he reached Double-A. In 2009, the right-hander hit 22 home runs and batted .337/.431/.579, but followed that up with a less than inspiring 2010 where he hit .291/.359/.440. In 2011, Neal was probably sent to Triple-A prematurely, and then traded to the Indians after a mediocre season. In 2012, Neal rebounded in Double-A, hitting .314/.400/.467 with 12 home runs. Most impressive from the outfielder was his patience at the plate, where he took 46 walks to his 71 strikeouts.

At 25 years old this season, Neal is probably the most mature and best fit of the young guys, assuming the Yankees are willing to move him to the 40 man roster. However, the team needs to continue to look for another viable outfielder. With Granderson breaking his arm, Gardner out for nearly all of last season, and Ichiro 39 years old, the amount of games these three can stay on the field for is a big question. The Yankees really should have a decent fourth outfielder with such risky players.

Even before the Granderson injury, Cashman was still looking for another right-handed outfielder, though the rumors had stopped as of late. Now he has little choice but to start adding depth to this outfield. The team doesn’t need to add a Giancarlo Stanton or even Alfonso Soriano, but a young outfielder like Casper Wells or Tyler Colvin should be able to step in and play replacement level ball or better. With only two major league outfielders on the team, and hardly any reasonable choices for a third or fourth, a trade is overdue.

5 thoughts on “Time To Trade For An Outfielder

  1. tanzo

    Johnson has no pop. You left out Ronnier Mustelier from your list. He has 89 games at AAA last year and showed some pop with 10 HRs there. He also had 5 in AA before moving up to AAA. Mesa has only 33 games at AAA. Another choice could be Adonis Garcia but he didn’t have any AAA experience.
    The over-riding issue is that they have to fill in for only a month. Do you really want to lose a good prospect for only a month fill in. I think some one there now will be just fine. We have had worse players play a whole year for us out there before. Oscar Gamble comes to mind!

    • Professor Longnose

      Hey, Gamble was good! He was a platoon player, but his OPS+ was never less than 112 for the Yankees. His OBP was 91 points higher than his BA for his career.

      Other than that, I agree. Panicking is an overreaction. It’s only a month…athough other injuries are likely at some point.

      • tanzo

        OK. Oscar was not at his best in 1984 from what I can remember. How about Mel Hall, Ruben Sierra, and Omar Moreno then?

  2. bg90027

    I don’t think any team is anxious to trade pieces at this point of spring training until they see what they have and know that the players they are counting on make it through spring training healthy.

    While I am sure that Cashman is making inquiries, I’d expect that trading now would necessitate overpaying. It’s probably the right approach to take a hard look at some of the youngsters and seeing what Diaz and Rivera have left for now, and then make an upgrade at the end of spring training if there’s something out there at reasonable cost.

    It will be easier to pick up a short term replacement when roster crunch hits at the end of spring training. Guys on minor league invites will make clubs and create a need for some DFAs. Guys without options left will become available for cheap. Maybe a decent but declining veteran will become expendable on a rebuilding club when a young player demonstrates he’s ready ahead of schedule. I’d be surprised if there isn’t something that gets done but I expect that’s when it happens.

  3. fuster

    trading for an outfielder is an excellent idea, assuming that the Marlins are up for it.
    Ichiro will do fine in left with Stanton in right.

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