In recent days , there have been three general stories coming from Yankee camp – all involving the excess starting pitching and lack of a DH. First, we have heard that the team needs to move some salary in order to spend on a hitter since they currently only have $1 or 2 million at most. Second, the Yanks prefer to trade AJ Burnett, but the prevailing thought around the league is the team would need to eat roughly 2/3 of the remaining $33M on his deal. And the third piece of news – straight from Cashman – is that they prefer to add a hitter via trade and that the FA market is “secondary”.
Well the first thing I’d try to do is dump AJ on someone and pocket the $10-$13M saved over the next 2 years – money which can be used to look for a bat.Since the opening the team has is at DH, they can pursue a bat at any position. But looking beyond this season the potential positions that could be available are RF and 3B. Nick Swisher is a Free Agent following the season and will likely command a 3 to 4 year commitment. Alex Rodriguez is signed for 6 more years, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the team to start looking at 3B options so ARod can begin to make his inevitable transition to the DH spot.
The type of hitter I’d like to see them acquire is someone who hits for solid average with some pop and is under team control for at least 2 years. With that in mind, Cashman needs to make phone calls on the following players:
Chase Headley – San Diego – 3B/OF
Headley is a 27-year-old, switch-hitting 3Bwhose numbers have been adversely effected playing half his games in pitcher’s paradise Petco Park. He hit .289/.374/.399/.773 overall but was a blistering .330/.399/.465/.864 away from Petco in 2011 and for his career is a totally different player on the road with a .303/.364/.441/.805 line. This guy clearly needs a change of scenery and is much more valuable to SD as a trade chip. Headley is in his prime and adds some speed (44 for 53 in SBs last 3 yrs) and defensive versatility. He could play 3B, LF & RF allowing ARod & Swisher to DH a lot – then next yr, he could play RF, 3B or play the same 3B/Corner OF utility role. He’ll make $3.5M this yr and has 2 more Arbitration years so he has 3 more years of team control. Phil Hughes would likely interest SD although they may prefer a prospect package in return.
Daniel Murphy – Mets – 3B/2B/OF/1B
Murphy is another versatile player who could fill in at multiple positions including the all important 3B to DH ARod often. He’ll turn 27 in April and is coming off knee surgery that cut short his red-hot 2011 season. He hit .320/.362/.448/.809 and doesn’t reach arbitration until next season so is still dirt cheap. He is an aggressive hitter who hits for average and puts the ball in play striking out only 9.9% in 2011. The question then is why would the Mets deal him? Well he’s now had 2 season ending injuries in the last 3 yrs so his name was on the market this winter. The Mets have Wright at 3B and can use Justin Turner at 2B but could use pitching. The Yanks could offer a nice package of prospects or offer Hughes who could close or start for them.
Billy Butler – Kansas City – DH/1B
Butler is a 26-year-old righty who hits for average and extra base hit power. He has a career .297/.360./458/.817 slash in his 4.5 yrs career. He’s hit at least .290 with 15 HRs and 44 Doubles every yr in the last 3 so he’s been very consistent. He doesn’t strike out a lot and should continue to improve as he enters his prime. KC has him signed thru 2014 at $8M per season. They have a lot of promising hitters that have emerged and have another big bat on the verge in Will Myers. Butler could be used as a means to update their pitching and a package centered around Hughes or Betances would be enticing.
Logan Morrison – Miami – OF/1B
Morrison became known for some of his brash comments on twitter last season and people are wondering how his personality will clash with new manager Ozzie Guillen. The big lefty hitter has a patient approach and can hit for average and power. He’s a career .259/.351/.460/.811 hitter in his brief 812 MLB PAs. He’s only 24 and has a bright future and Miami really has no reason to trade him right now. However, Miami is said to be highly interested in Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes to energize the large Cuban population in Miami. That could make Morrison expendable but he wouldn’t come cheap since he’s not even Arbitration eligible until 2014. Betances would have to lead a package for LoMo.
Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland – RF
Choo was one of MLB’s rising stars after hitting .300+ with an .880+ OPS for 3 straight yrs from 2008-2010. However, he had some off the field issues in 2011 including a DUI which contributed to a disappointing and injury plagued season. Healthy and motivated now, the 29 yr old lefty is ready for a comeback season. He’s a great all-around RF capable of hitting .300 with a .400 OBP and 20+ HRs. He’ll make $4.9M this year and has one more arbitration year before hitting FA in 2014. Cleveland may be down on him after last season’s struggles and only 2 years of team control left. I doubt Cleveland would look to trade hm until mid-season at earliest so he could re-establish himself, however with Detroit’s recent power move, perhaps Cleveland is already looking to the future.
Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox – 1B/DH
Konerko does not fit with the other names on this list since he’s a veteran who will be 36 before the season starts. However, the White Sox have little chance of contending this year and could get a nice package of players to re-build with for Konerko. Over the last 2 years , Konerko has hit .306/.391/.551 for a .942 OPS and averaged 35 HRs & 108 RBI. His bat would look very nice hitting in the cleanup spot. Konerko has 2 yrs and $25.5M on his contract but is worth the money as he still hits at an elite level. To fit his $12.5M salary, some salary would have to go back to Chicago along with prospects but it could be done as long as Burnett is moved in a separate deal.
Domonic Brown – Philadelphia – OF
The Phillies don’t have much that they need and Brown is one of their top prospects. However, they brought in OF Laynce Nix and GM Ruben Amaro said “He has some things to work on….and if I had my druthers, I would keep him at Triple-A and have him get 500-600 ABs.” I’m sure that’s not what the big 24-yr old Lefty hitter wanted to hear after starting 56 games in Philly last yr. The Phils have a strong OF with Pence, Victorino, John Mayberry and Nix so maybe it’s possible they’d entertain a Brown for Betances + trade. Brown would be the heir apparent to take over RF in 2013 and could be broken in slowly. The Yanks don’t have a big time OF in the upper levels of their system and a player like Brown would be just what they need.