The Yankees offseason rumor mill has officially started. John Harper, of the New York Daily News, wrote an article about the Braves being interested in Eduardo Nunez, and that they were willing to give up Jair Jurrjens. Jurrjens had an excellent year last year going 13-6, with a 2.96 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP. However, his year ended after experiencing pain in his surgically repaired right knee. According to Wallace Matthews, the Yankees are concerned about that knee. Nunez had a nice first full year with the Yankees hitting .265, with 5 HRs, 30 RBI’s, 22 SBs, and a .698 OPS. I would be extremely hesitant to trade for Jurrjens and I hope Brian Cashman is smart enough not to.
Jair Jurrjens is not the #2 starter that the Braves will try to sell the Yankees on. They would ask for a lot more than just Nunez for Jurrjens and it would not be worth it. The regular numbers look nice, but they can be a little misleading. The things that really concern me are his K/9, BB/9, his FB % and GB %, and his fastball velocity. Here is a chart of those stats over the last three years for Jurrjens.
A number 2 starter absolutely cannot only average about only 3 more strikeouts than walks. That is an egregious number that cannot be overstated. If you are not going to strikeout people, you cannot walk the amount of people that Jurrjens does. He has been able to get away with it in the NL, but in the AL East it will not happen that way. Jurrjens also allows way too many fly balls to pitch at Yankee stadium effectively. Having your ground ball and fly ball percentage almost even at Yankee Stadium, and not striking anybody out is a recipe for disaster at Yankee Stadium. Javier Vazquez rings a bell in that regard. Also, the declining fastball is a concern. Jurrjens never threw hard to begin with and last year his average fastball velocity dipped into the 80’s. His strikeout numbers will not get any better with that trend. I know I made it seem like Jurrjens is an awful pitcher but he actually has had a very successful career so far, so you have to give him credit. However, I just do not think the numbers would translate over to the AL East. A declining fastball, too many fly balls, too few strikeouts, and too many walks just will not work out in the toughest division in baseball.
I would also be very hesitant to trade for Jurrjens because I am reluctant to give up Eduardo Nunez. I really liked the tools and potential he showed last year. He obviously has a long way to go in the field, but he has the range, speed, and arm strength to greatly improve. He showed he has pop in his bat and I think he will eventually turn into one of the better hitting shortstops in MLB. I believe he can be the next shortstop after Derek Jeter. Time will tell on that though and I would like to see more from him. Nunez would be just the start in a Jurrjens deal because the Braves think very highly of Jurrjens. Some have suggested Nick Swisher would be a fit and I would be highly against that as well. I also would not include Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, or Dellin Betances in a deal for Jurrjens.
While Jurrjens has been good for the Braves he is just not a fit for the Yankees. You always have to weary of NL pitchers going to the AL East, and really look hard to see if they will translate over. Jurrjens just does not fit the bill. I trust that Brian Cashman will see these same issues that I do. Jurrjens would pitch more like Javier Vazquez for the Yankees than like CC Sabathia.