Tag Archives: Juan Rivera

Rivera & Overbay- Two Dull, Worn Out Sides Of The Same Replacement 1B Coin

Despite having a potentially better in-house option in front of them and despite facing an increasingly tricky 40-man roster situation, the Yankees continue to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks in an attempt to find Mark Teixeira‘s temporary replacement at first base.  The latest contestant is Lyle Overbay, 36-year-old lefty swinger who was released earlier this week and gobbled up just as quickly by the Bombers.  Juan Rivera had been getting the bulk of the work at first in the last couple weeks, but the signing of Overbay this late in camp suggests the Yankees weren’t as comfortable with that option as they appeared to be.  Overbay is a natural first baseman, unlike Rivera, and that surely influenced the now defensive-minded Yankees’ decision to bring him in.  Whether or not he’s actually a better option than Rivera?  Well, that’s debatable.

Offensively, the Yankees basically have the same player in both Rivera and Overbay.  Neither hits for much power anymore, at least not based on what Rivera has shown in camp.  This comes with the obligatory “Spring Training stats” grain of salt, but Rivera’s .305/.328/.390 ST slash line isn’t exactly what you would call ideal production from a first baseman.  He’s hitting, sure, and there is something to be said for that.  Those hits just haven’t led to much: 18 in 59 ABs with only 5 doubles and 5 RBI.

Overbay put up a similarly underwhelming line in Boston’s camp (.220/.327/.341 in 41 ABs), albeit in a slightly different way.  He’s always been good at drawing walks (11.3% career BB rate) and continues to display strong pitch recognition skills and patience even without any kind of power to speak of.  He also tends to strike out more than Rivera, but his on-base skills make him a bit more of an attractive offensive option when the lack of power is considered.  I’m using the term “attractive” a bit loosely in this comparison, as neither Rivera (projected .310 wOBA by ZiPS) nor Overbay (.305) are expected to be even average offensive players this season.

Where Overbay has the advantage is on the defensive side.  I mentioned before that he is a natural first baseman and he’s a good one at that.  Rivera has held his own out there in camp, but he’s not the type of player who can be counted on to save runs at the position.  With Derek Jeter out to start the season and likely to need a lot of rest when he does return, we’re going to get a lot of Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and we all know what comes with that.  Overbay’s experience and plus glove skills could come in handy snaring some errant Nunez throws and possibly saving a few runs in the process.  In that respect, at least, the Yankees could come close to replicating Teix’s value while he’s out.

The other thing I mentioned at the top of this post was the potentially better in-house first base option to which the Yankees haven’t given much more thought or playing time.  That option is Kevin Youkilis, who also has first base experience and has always rated as a very good defensive first baseman.  He hasn’t played the position regularly in a few years, but I can’t imagine that’s something you just forget how to do and it would be a way to lessen the injury risk that’s going to be attached to him all season.

Rivera does have positional flexibility working in his favor.  His ability to play the outfield, the position he was originally signed to play, and the fact that he’s a much-needed righty bat does make him a more useful long-term option than Overbay.  Now that I think about it, though, perhaps the Overbay signing signals that Rivera is going to be the odd man out here.  The Yankees are pretty well stocked with righty-hitting outfielders now that they’ve added Wells and Francisco to the mix.  There’s going to be platoon action somewhere in the lineup, so why can’t it be at first base?  Overbay starts and plays there against RHP with Youkilis at third, and against lefties Youkilis can slide over to play first with someone like Ronnier Mustelier or Jayson Nix playing third.

Does that sound like a better scenario than any one that includes Rivera?  Maybe, maybe not. But that’s where the Yankees stand when it comes to filling out their bench this season; just trying to find the right mix of guys who can hopefully be league average.  It’s not like Rivera or Overbay are going to put the lineup on their backs and carry them until Teix returns.  Maybe the defensive skills are enough to give Overbay the nod and Rivera the ticket outta town.

Jeter related ramblings

Happy Friday, all. I hope your week hasn’t been too stressful. Anyway, let’s get down to business. We’re all aware of Derek Jeter‘s injury situation. Opening Day has long been Jeter’s goal, but that now appears in jeopardy. Yesterday, GM Brian Cashman announced that Jeter would no longer participate in Major League Spring Training games; however, he’ll continue to play in Minor League games. As we’ve all heard by now, this is essentially a clerical “just in case.” It allows Jeter to get game action, but also allows the Yankees to retroactively place Jeter on the 15-day Disabled List in case he isn’t ready to go for Opening Day. This all makes me think that they should just place Jeter on the DL now.

The Derek Jeter we’ve all come to know and love is the guy who “shows up to work every day” and just “does his job” (and does it exceedingly well most of the time). Like any successful worker, Jeter is goal-oriented, and in this case, Opening Day readiness is the goal and he’s been steadfast in his determination to reach that goal. That effort is certainly laudable, but is this “toughness” actually a good thing? Being in the lineup on Opening Day is certainly admirable, but if Jeter isn’t field-ready by then, can’t we argue that it hurts the team just as much as–if not more than–it would if he just sat out for the first few games and returned on April 6th? Granted, Eduardo Nunez isn’t going to be any great shakes at short for those few games, but how effective would an injured Derek Jeter be? His range is already limited and now he’s got another year to his name as well as an ankle plate and some screws to match. Wouldn’t it be better to get the DL stint out of the way now rather than in May or June when he’s an absolute statue in the field and possibly unbalanced at the plate?

We discussed this as a staff earlier on in the day and Steve Shaka had an interesting observation about holding Jeter back in minor league camp. His words:

…I wonder if the Yanks are using this ‘sending him to the minors for the rest of camp’ as indicating something else is going on. If he’s healthy enough to play in the minors, he should be fine to play in big league camp, no? I wonder if they haven’t liked what they’ve seen from him defensively and this is an excuse to see if he can improve over time w/o hurting the big club.

Though I could be dead wrong, he’s scheduled to come back April 6th and this could all be about not losing a roster spot for the first few days of the year. But if Nunez is a highlight reel out there (which he’s capable of when his throws are accurate) it does lay some groundwork for finally moving Jeter off SS.

The first part is definitely plausible, but I disagreed with the second part. I think it’s just too late to move him off of shortstop now. I’m sure Brian Cashman and others in the organization have wanted to move Jeter off of short for a while, but just haven’t been able to get the support. And, at this point, where do you move Jeter? He’s too old and injured to move to the outfield and he won’t hit enough to carry first. Hell, he may even be too old to properly learn a new position.

Steve suggested left field, since the Melky Mesa/Juan Rivera situation that’s brewing out there isn’t too encouraging. Again, I disagreed slightly. Rivera shouldn’t touch the outfield–he should play first and DH–and neither should Jeter. Mesa may end up being raw and unpolished at the plate, but the dude can flat out fly in the outfield. Let him play there and he can probably contribute on the defensive side of things. Left field is huge in YS3 and I don’t want a player–Jeter–with a bum ankle trying to track balls down out there. Not only will it hurt the left field defense, but it’ll cause Brett Gardner to shade over towards left, which will leave a gap in right center field. This wouldn’t concern me as much if Ichiro were younger and still able to cover lots of ground, but he, too, is a little old and can’t field like he used to.

As a semi-concession, I posited Jeter in right with Ichiro in left. That wouldn’t be so bad range-wise, but again, I really don’t want a guy with an injured ankle trying to track down fly balls. The Yankees have lived with poor defense in right field before–Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu–but those guys could more than carry the position with their bats. As a corner outfielder, there’s no way Derek Jeter could do that. He’s likely to be awful at short–perhaps worse than he’s ever been–but at least his bat plays there, and plays there at a high level. Even if his offense takes a bit of a step back, he’s still going to be one of the top offensive shortstops in the game and liable to be a net positive there thanks to the runs he creates with the bat. With Jeter’s contract winding down, we’re only looking at two more years of his defense at short until someone else takes over. That got me thinking positively about something I never thought I would…the possibility of Eduardo Nunez actually taking over at short when Jeter retires and being okay there.

Nunez will turn 26 on June 15 (birthday twins! 6/15/87!), so he’d be in the middle of his age-based prime when Jeter’s gone. Though small, there is a chance that Nunez improves by that time. If he does, I’d liken it to the situation the Phillies had a few years ago with Jim Thome and Ryan Howard. They let Thome play out the string in Philadelphia while letting Howard (over) develop. When Thome did finally depart, Howard was old for a prospect, but about to enter his prime. If not for that ridiculous extension, the Phillies were set up to get huge value from a guy in his prime before letting him walk and get scooped up for his decline years. I wonder if the Yankees could do the same with Nunez, though with obviously less spectacular returns. Maybe they could squeeze a good season or two out of Eduardo before letting him walk for a bigger deal than they deem necessary or fit.

I realize that most of this is academic; we know there’s no way in hell that Jeter moves off of short while he’s stil playing. We should also realize that there’s a non-zero chance that he gets another contract after 2014, even if Brian Cashman is kicking and screaming about it the whole time. But to wrap this up with my original point, please, Derek, swallow your pride and start the season on the DL. Your effort is noble and we all appreciate it, but it’s for the betterment of the team if you just sit out now rather than later. The Opening Day lineup may be ugly without you, but that won’t matter much come mid-late season when the team needs you healthy. Just sit. Please.

Internal Options To Replace Teixeira

Brian Cashman hasn’t decided on replacing Mark Teixeira from inside or outside the organization, but it seems that he’s leaning towards the former. The team has few young internal options at first base, but with Kevin Youkilis‘ versatility at the corners, the Yankees could opt for a third baseman. Guys like Corban Joseph, David Adams, and J.R. Murphy all have limited experience at third, and it’s hard to imagine that their range or glove at the position would suffice for an organization pushing forward a defensive minded team. The Yankees will probably go with an older and safer option.

Dan Johnson– Johnson finally landed his first Spring Training hit yesterday, and now would be a great time to start swinging the bat. Through 2700+ innings at first base, Johnson has shown average range. Offensively, he’s been slightly above average with his career 102 wRC+. The left-handed hitter might not had great contact numbers, but he draws a ton of walks and has no platoon split. He’d be a safe option to directly replace Teixeira’s on base percentage, but he otherwise offers very little upside.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Juan Rivera– If yesterday’s game told us anything about the Yankees’ plans, Juan Rivera playing first base stood out. Rivera is a notoriously bad fielding first baseman that holds a career -5.2 UZR/150 and .988 fielding percentage. Rivera’s offense hasn’t been above average since 2009, and before that 2006. With a 115 wRC+ against left-handers, Rivera is a platoon player at best, and it’s hard to imagine him taking over full time for Teixeira.

Gil Velazquez– He’s nothing special with the bat, and he’s nothing special with the glove, but he can hold himself at almost every position. If the Yankees want to bring in a super utility player, Velazquez can do everything except catch and pitch. He OPS’d .865 in a hitter friendly PCL in 2011, and followed that up with a .775 OPS in 2012. He hasn’t had any such success in the majors, but he’s been held to just 75 plate appearances.

Jayson Nix– Like Velazquez, Nix can play nearly every position. Position-by-position, Nix is awful at short stop, average at third base, and very good at second base. Assuming Cano stays on the field, Nix should only be used at third, and he hardly represents anything better defensively than Youkilis can do at the hot corner.

(Mike Ashmore)
(Mike Ashmore)

Addison Maruszak– The 26 year old Maruszak spent all of 2012 in Double-A Trenton where he had a very strong season. He posted a 117 wRC+ and 16 home runs while playing primarily short stop. Maruszak has played 99 games at third base and 104 at first base as well. The biggest question about Maruszak is his bat, which is hard to project at the Major League level. If he can swing the bat well for the rest of March, he might have a chance to make the team.

Ronnier Mustelier– A third baseman in Cuba, the 28 year old player primarily outfield over the last two years. In his time at third base, Mustelier has been below average, but there are few other options that can swing that bat as well as him. In 2012, Mustelier moved through the minor league system quickly by putting up a 179 wRC+ in Trenton, and then a 128 wRC+ in Scranton. Mustelier’s bat and positions translate well to the Yankees’ needs, but his ability to play third base is questionable.

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.


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.

Piecing it Together: Part Three

In my last two pieces talked about building the lineup. To quickly test the potency of these lineups, I ran them through the lineup analysis tool from Baseball Musings. I used the PECOTA and ZiPS projections to get the players’ OBP/SLG. Remember, though, these projected OBP/SLG numbers are NOT split adjusted. Here are the results:


This lineup projects to score 4.874 R/G, which translates to about 790 runs over the course of a 162 game season.

PECOTA vs LHP, Rivera

Using PECOTA and Juan Rivera as the, DH, the Yankees project to score 4.840 R/G, about 785 per 162 games.


Using Matt Diaz at DH, we get 4.805 R/G, which is about 779 runs over 162 games.


ZiPS is a little more friendly to the Yankees, projecting 4.974 R/G. That would push the Yankees over the hump to about 806 runs per game.

ZiPS vs. LHP, Rivera

This gets us 4.887 R/G, about 792 for the season. Again, ZiPS is a little more friendly than PECOTA.

ZiPS vs. LHP, Diaz

Last but not least, we get 4.831 per game, 783 over the course of the season.

So these projections, which are NOT split adjusted, give us somewhere between 785-805 runs for the Yankees. Those are perfectly reasonable, but they do sell the Yankees short a bit. Both are probably a bit conservative and the fact that they’re not split adjusted affects the output in the analysis tool. Certainly, e can expect certain players (Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Juan Rivera, and Matt Diaz) to hit better against lefties than their overall projections while we can expect others (Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Travis Hafner) to do the same against righties. The Yankee offense has never been flawless, but this season, there do seem to be a few more flaws than there have been in the past. Remember, though, offense has been down in the last few years. Despite the fairly conservative projections, the Yankees have a chance to be a top offensive club, as they always do.

Piecing it Together: Part Two

You’ll remember that last week, I mused about the possible lineup construction for the 2013 squad. Let’s revisit the idea of the lineup one more time, with something else in mind.

If you’ve read this site, then you’re probably familiar with the Replacement Level Yankee Blog and its CAIRO Projections. The last iteration of them came out on January 28th. What’s nice about the CAIRO splits is that they also include platoon breakdowns; each player has his normal projections and his split projections in the form of wOBA vs. LHP and RHP. Let’s take a look at the lineups I presented in my previous post and see what each guy is projected to do. We’ll start against lefties for a bit of a switch. The number next to each player is the projected wOBA:

1. Jeter, SS: .354
2. Youkilis, 3B: .367
3. Teixeira, 1B: .362
4. Cano, 2B: .356
5. Diaz, DH: .321; Rivera, DH: .324
6. Granderson, CF: .305
7. Cervelli, C: .310
8. Ichiro, RF: .323
9. Gardner, LF: .309

The only disappointing things are the relatively low wOBAs for Diaz and Rivera. They’re both in camp to hope to become the team’s Major League lefty mashers, so we’d hope for something a little higher than wOBA’s in the low-to-mid .320’s. Brett Gardner might need a platoon partner in left, but seeing Ichiro projected for a wOBA that “high” is encouraging. CAIRO also seems to predict a platoon partner for Curtis Granderson, though he’s been better against lefties of late (and we know Joe Girardi won’t platoon Granderson…at least not right away). Let’s jump to righties and see what we come up with.

1. Gardner, LF: .332
2. Jeter, SS: .322
3. Teixeira, 1B: .346
4. Cano, 2B: .392
5. Granderson, CF: .361
6. Youkilis, 3B: .341
7. Hafner, DH: .362
8. Cervelli, C: .292
9. Ichiro, RF: .331

This lineup is a bit more well rounded and a bit more solid. There’s just one wOBA under .320 and it belongs–predictably–to Francisco Cervelli. For posterity’s sake, Chris Stewart‘s projected wOBA against RHP is .283 (.303 vs. LHP). My eyes definitely lit up thinking about Cano having a .392 wOBA against righties (for the record, he did .461 against righties).

Remember, projections aren’t predictions, but logical inferences as to what each player can do. If the CAIRO projections I’ve put forward here are indicative of anything, it’s that they might be a bit on the conservative side. However, they show us that the Yankees should still have a pretty solid offense. It may not necessarily be the complete and total package that we’re used to, but it should still pound out some quality runs. How many could it do? We’ll check in on that on Thursday.

Piecing it Together

For most of the offseason, I’ve lamented the losses of two key batters: Nick Swisher and Russell Martin. By no means are those players superstars, but they were perfect fits for the Yankee offense. Both Swisher ad Martin provided power and patience, cornerstones of the team’s offense for the last two decades. In their places, the Yankees will have players not known for their power or patience.

Ichiro Suzuki and a combination of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli (at least to start the year) will man right field and catcher. While Ichiro may have something left at the plate, the catching duo will hardly strike fear into the hearts and minds of opposing pitching staffs. Their inclusion is, overall, representative of a potential loss of offense for the Yankees. This isn’t to say that neither of the three has no redeeming offensive qualities. Ichiro can still make a bit of contact and Cervelli can draw the occasional walk. Both will have places in the Yankee lineup, probably towards the bottom of the lineup. That lineup may be a bit harder to construct this season.

Cerevlli will be easy to place; he’ll always be at the bottom of the lineup, most likely in the eighth or ninth spot, and the same goes for Chris Stewart. Ichiro will be a bit harder to slot in. When he came to the team in July of last year, he started at the bottom of the lineup, but a hot streak propelled him to a higher spot by the season’s end. Will that memory and his “name value” keep him at the top or will his age and skill set keep him at the bottom?

Ichiro and the catchers are not the only players that will provide a placement challenge to manager Joe Girardi. Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner, two new acquisitions, can help replicate the patience and power vacated by Swisher and martin. Though their skills are tangible and obvious, age and injury have obfuscated those skills. Ideally, Youkilis would be a two hitter–or a leadoff guy in a pinch–and Hafner would be a three, four, or five hitter. But with both players on the downside of their careers in terms of performance and health, their places in the lineup are unclear. Adding to the possible confusion, of course, are the myriad talented players that the team already employs. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, and the aforementioned Ichiro are all players that could hit in the potential spots for Youkilis and Hafner (and that’s not including Alex Rodriguez, who’ll presumably be back midseason). And even those players have questions attached to them.

The newly candid Teixeira is not what he once was (by his own admission). Jeter is coming off injury, as is Brett Gardner, whose injury was more severe and costly. Granderson had a rocky second half and playoff stretch. Only Cano seems like a good bet to maintain his offensive status (elite!).
Departures, new arrivals, and remaining questions will combine into a lineup that will probably be pretty solid, regardless of our anxieties. The big picture will probably look pretty good at season’s end. On the macro level, lineup construction may not be wholly impactful. On the micro level, the game-to-game level, it does matter. Over the course of the season, the minute run changes that occur in-game won’t matter much, if at all. They will matter, though, in those game situations. What will those lineups look like? What should those lineups look like? We all have different interpretations of that second question and its answer could make up dozens of articles. In light of that, let’s go on our (assumed) knowledge of two things and make a lineup:

1. Derek Jeter will be at the top (one or two) of the lineup
2. Joe Girardi (generally) dislikes stacking lefties.

Given those conditions, let’s try to construct two lineups, one vs. RHP and one vs. LHP.

1. Gardner, LF Jeter, SS
2. Jeter, SS Youkilis, 3B
3. Teixeira, 1B Teixeira, 1B
4. Cano, 2B Cano, 2B
5. Granderson, CF DH (Matt Diaz? Juan Rivera?)
6. Youkilis, 3B Granderson, CF
7. Hafner, DH Cervelli, C
8. Cervelli, C Ichiro, RF
9. Ichiro, RF Gadner, LF

Both lineups highlight something we may have overlooked regarding Nick Swisher’s departure. While his hitting skills would allow him to hit anywhere from one-six in the lineup, it’s conceivable that his switch hitting status is what made him such a great fit. With just one switch hitter in the lineup, the Yankees will likely need to stack lefty batters together more often than they’d like, including in my proposed lineups: 4-5 and 9-1 vs. RHP and 8-9 vs. LHP. Despite that, those lineups seem likely and are definitely justifiable.

Gardner in front of Jeter against RHP allows the former to get on base and (hopefully) use his legs to get into scoring position for Jeter and his opposite field approach. We could swap Tex and Cano in this lineup, which would eliminate one stack of lefties. This move could also give Cano, the team’s best hitter, a handful more plate appearances over the course of the season. That’s tempting, and I probably wouldn’t argue against it. However, it might be more beneficial to have Cano bat behind someone like Tex who has great on-base skills.

Against lefties, the top three hitters all do their best work and most damage when facing said southpaws. The Tex/Cano swap could also work here. For our purposes, that decision may be a matter of preference: Do we (theoretically) more men on base in front of Cano or do we subscribe to the “newer” theory of lineup construction that says put your low OBP sluggers (sounds a lot like Robbie, no?) in the third spot?
The Yankees have long been MLB’s top offensive club. That may not be true in 2013, but perhaps our apprehension is a bit overstated. The Yankee lineup, though different, should still be plenty productive.

Yankees Sign Juan Rivera

(Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, the Yankees have signed right-handed outfielder Juan Rivera to a minor league contract. The former Yankee will compete with Russ Canzler, Matt Diaz, and Thomas Neal for the current major league right-handed outfield spot this Spring Training.

His 106 wRC+ in 2012 against left-handed pitchers is his one positive factor for the team, but on a minor league deal, this signing can’t hurt.

Scouting The Free Agent Market For An Andruw Jones Replacement

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.

AP Photo/Ben Margot

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.

Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

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.