It’s no secret that the Yankees are short on outfield depth following Curtis Granderson’s fractured forearm. In response to the injury, Derek noted that a trade would be unlikely given the team’s lack of leverage and the price of an upgrade. But with spring training roster cuts expected to occur over the next month, the Yankees may be able to snag some other team’s castoffs for a song. That’s exactly how the Astros acquired Justin Maxwell from the Yankees last year. Here’s a look at some of the guys who are out of options and may end up on the waiver wire in a few weeks.
Casper Wells: With the glut of 1B/OF/DH types in Seattle, someone’s going to be left on the outside looking in. If the Mariners decide to hang on to both Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, Wells may be on the move. He didn’t hit much at all last year, but that was due in part to his home ballpark. He has a little bit of pop and a good batting eye and could probably be a league average hitter this year. He also provides plus defense in the outfield corners. On top of that, he bats right handed which would make him a great compliment to the left-handed trio of Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Granderson. He almost makes too much sense.
John Mayberry: Mayberry has good power and has crushed lefties to the tune of a .371 wOBA over his career. Unfortunately, his wOBA against righties has been a puny .301. Still, he would be markedly better than Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz in a platoon role. Mayberry saw action in all 3 outfield spots as well as at first base last year so he could provide some flexibility as well. The Phillies have a crowded outfield and Mayberry could be the odd man out if Delmon Young proves to be healthy for opening day or if the team decides to keep rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte.
Jose Tabata: Tabata is a very interesting case. Yankee fans have been hearing about Tabata since he was 16 so it’s very easy to forget that he’s still just 24 years old. The former Yankee prospect has 4 years and $12.5 million left on his contract (plus some club options). Although, the AAV is only be $2.29 million for luxury tax purposes. Tabata’s stock has crashed as he’s gotten progressively worse since his solid rookie season in 2010. The Pirates even optioned him to the minors last season. While he’s trending in the wrong direction, he’s certainly still young enough to still have some upside. His contract is far from an albatross and he could even be a bargain if he improves. Still, it would be risky to take on 4 years of a player who was below replacement level last year.
Jarrod Dyson/Ezequiel Carrera: I grouped these 2 together since they are essentially the same player. Their game is speed. They can’t hit much, but are probably some of the fastest players in baseball and would definitely be assets on defense and the base paths. They bat left-handed though so bringing one of these guys onboard would be a little redundant with similar players like Gardner and Ichiro already in the fold.
Another guy to keep in mind is Russ Canzler. He’s not out of options, but is on the Orioles’ 40-man roster. He’s already with his 4th team this offseason, but could be on the move yet again. The Orioles’ camp has fringy outfielders up the wazoo and Canzler could be DFA’d once more if he has a poor spring and the Orioles need to clear a roster spot.
There are other players who could fill out the roster like Sam Fuld, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, and Jordan Schafer. While they all could provide a decent glove, none of these guys have shown much ability to hit at the major league level. It’s probably safe to assume they’re no better than whoever emerges from the Juan Rivera/Matt Diaz/Melky Mesa/Ronnier Mustelier/Zoilo Almonte/Thomas Neal mess.
We’re still a good three weeks away from any of the guys discussed getting DFA’d. A lot could change between now and then as injuries could turn any one of these players from depth pieces into necessities. Still, it will be interesting to watch these position battles unfold to see which outfielders might be available for a song. Given their lack of overall roster depth, expect the Yankees to be active on the waiver wire more so than ever this year.
Photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons