Trade Musing: Young And Cheap Teixeira Replacements

The Yankees are dropping like flies, and age is probably a big factor. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson will be out until May, and that could be the equivalence of 10-15 homeruns lost. If you follow WAR, it doesn’t look as bad, and it’ll probably only cost the team around a win and a half, assuming the two would normally qualify for 4 wins each this season. The important thing is that the team can find good defensive replacements that have at least some offensive prowess.

Ideally, the Yankees would be targeting a Chase Headley or even a Logan Morrison to shore up current and future problems. While it answers some of the outfield and budget questions, obtaining such players will cost you a decent chunk of prospects, and who knows if they’re even available. Cashman is much more likely to target a veteran player on the last year of their contract, and Justin Morneau‘s name has been mentioned quite a bit. The problem here is that you’re temporarily stopping the injury problem with a 32 year old that has an extensive injury history. Once Teixeira returns, where do you play Morneau with Travis Hafner as your left-handed DH?

Cashman has done a fantastic job of targeting older veteran players in the past to create a strong bench without giving up prospects, but these practices have caught up to him. While Ichiro Suzuki was supposed to be a part-time player last year, he’s now a starter in 2013, and the margin for error has been dwindling down as these part-time players move from the bench to the starting lineup.

A middle ground between both extremes is to target a young player that might need a change of scenery. It doesn’t work all the time, but Nick Swisher is one example, where the Yankees brought him and his .219 average to the Bronx for peanuts. Cashman struck gold with Swisher, and although it’s a rare occurrence, Yankee Stadium is awfully friendly to offensive players. So here are a few trade targets that might enjoy a new home ballpark.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Justin Smoak– Smoak is infamously known to Yankee fans as the once prospect that the Mariners liked better than Jesus Montero. The switch hitter has hit a combined .223/.306/.377 in three major league seasons. The former top prospect has struggled offensively, but who hasn’t in Safeco Field? The stadium is infamous for robbing right-handed hitters, and in recent years, left-handers haven’t had much luck either. Over his career, Smoak has a 91 OPS+ at home, while he sports a 109 OPS+ on the road.

Last season, Smoak hit .235/.308/.434 on the road with 15 home runs.  Something clicked for him after being called up from Triple-A at the end of the season. The switch hitter finished the last two months of 2012 hitting .288/.375/.475 with only 26 strikeouts. He’s carried that hot streak into Spring Training, where he has 8 hits and 2 home runs in 16 at bats. But if Smoak doesn’t hit, he’ll at least provide a team with above average defense at first base.

The Mariners currently have a number of options for first base, and will need to cut some players by the end of Spring Training. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a trade with the type of relationship the Yankees and Mariners have built over the last few years.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Matt LaPorta– Once a seventh overall pick by the Brewers, LaPorta moved to the Indians organization as the cornerstone piece for CC Sabathia. Through four major league seasons, and 1068 plate appearances, LaPorta has hit .238/.301/.393. At Progressive Field, where righties have struggled, he has posted an 85 wRC+ compared to a 95 wRC+ on the road. Defensively, he can play an average first base, and also has some experience in the outfield.

Unfortunately for LaPorta, his time with the Indians was spent struggling at the plate, bouncing around between positions and levels, and dealing with an ongoing hip problem that is now fixed. It’s extremely unlikely that he makes the Indians’ major league roster, and should be very available.

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Daric Barton– Barton isn’t going to make up for Teixeira’s home runs, but he has the potential to make up for his on base percentage and fielding. He’s a career .249/.360/.371 hitter with a 105 wRC+. Like the other two first baseman, his career home/away splits are strong. Barton has been a much better hitter outside of Oakland, where he has a 111 wRC+ on the road. As a left handed batter, the difference between and Yankee Stadium is immense, and he could fit very well into a patient Yankee lineup, and perhaps even show some more power with the short porch.

His defense at first base is very good, and even rivals that of Mark Teixeira. Unfortunately, he has little experience elsewhere, and hasn’t played third base regularly since 2007.

Barton is out of options and likely to be cut by the end of Spring Training. If the Yankees land him, where to put him after Teixeira’s return is a tough decision, but he’d at least be valuable as a bench bat.

About Michael Eder

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

14 thoughts on “Trade Musing: Young And Cheap Teixeira Replacements

  1. I've always loved Barton's OBP and i think he would be a fantastic fit in the Yankee lineup. He'd be my number 1 choice in this list.

  2. Also, i just want to say that I don't think it's time to hit the panic button at all. Yes, 3 good hitters are out of the Yankees lineup as of now. But after the all-star break, the Yankees will have their full lineup and still play roughly half their schedule. If they can stay in the hunt until then, and maybe make a trade (if they need), they are still one of the premiere teams in the league. Just a friendly reminder of how the lineup will play out after the all-star break.


    That's still extremely potent, and Tex and Granderson are due back in May, which means they should have no real problems after the 1st month. And this staff is extremely talented as well, we sometimes do forget how lucky we have it.

  3. These are some really good options here. If I were Cashman trying to cut coupons and corners these are the guys I'd go after. Unless Headley magically became available for Nova or Hughes plus some crappy prospects.

    • I believe it's Hughes last year of his contract, so i assume that he would be the piece to go in a trade. That being said, the Yankees may want/need to extend him after this year.

    • Anyone who would trade a young guy (Nova) for a one year rental 3b is foolish. It is crap thinking like that which resulted in the farm system dying in the late 80's early 90's before Big Stein was banished.

  4. How come nobody's talking about putting Mustelier on first? He was an infielder in Cuba, so that gives you a guy who can play the corners, plus outfield. And he seems to be able to hit. And we've already got him.

    • I'm sure we'll have something soon on internal options, I stuck with external ones in this post.

      I think Mustelier is much more interesting in the OF. He hasn't played 1B with the Yankees, and his 3B hasn't been particularly good in Cuba or with the Yankees. You gotta think he'll see sometime at the corners this Spring though.

    • If he was going to play the corners, it'd be at third. He'd play there and Youk would play first. However, he's below average at third so that plan probably won't happen.

  5. In regard to what to do with Barton, Morneau (Insert Player Who Can Only Play 1b or DH Here) when Teixeira comes back:

    First of all, you have a minimum of a quarter of a season to play that player, assuming Teix comes back on time and stays healthy. Afterwards, you play that player when Teix needs a rest, when Hafner needs a rest, and when you are blowing a team out or are getting blown out. You will also want to pinch hit for your catcher late in every tight game.

    What if Teix comes back later, or isn't effective right away? More at bats. Hafner has a major injury?More at bats. Minor one to three day typical baseball season injuries for Teix or Pronk? More at bats. There will be no shortage of places and times to use even a one position replacement player.

  6. Morneau could work; his injury history would fit the Yankees to a "T." Sign him and hope he stays healthy until Tex comes back – the odds of having both healthy at the same time are minimal, so no overcrowding problems whatsoever.

  7. No. No. And NO. All of these players are either too old, too injured or too expensive in terms of return picks. The only one that might make sense would be Headley for Hughes and a minor leaguer. Nothing more.

  8. La Porta would be a great move. He is healthy and this is the year he needs a fesh start somewhere else to break through. If you ever question he has as much raw power as anyone in baseball just watch him at BP or ask any one who knows what he is capable of.

  9. Yankee's coach Pat McMahon (International Player Development) should reach out to management with more insight into LaPorta and what he can bring to the team. McMahon had him 4 yrs while at University of Florida.