Via MLBTR, we learn that the Yankees might be considering a run at Mark DeRosa. With the Indians struggling, they could use DeRosa as a bit of trade bait, getting something useful for him before his contract expires after this season. Says Buster Olney: “One of the looming shadows circling below is that of the New York Yankees, who are weighing options and haven’t decided whether to take a shot at the versatile veteran.” So should the Yankees really get involved in talks for a utility infielder?
Make no mistake: DeRosa is a better option than any of the three current ones (Pena, Ransom, Berroa). He can also play the outfield in a pinch, and can do so reasonably well (11.5 UZR/150 in 451.2 innings in 2008). He can also play every position in the infield, and for the most part with competence — though his UZR is a bit down this year at second and third. His .333 OBA and .446 SLG make him an above-average utility player, if not average starter. Given the current state of the Yanks bench, should they make an offer?
Clearly he would represent an upgrade. His versatility would also help out the cases of Xavier Nady and Hideki Matsui, who figure to be DH-only options. It would allow the Yanks some pop off the bench if they needed it, while also covering them better in case of injury. With a 12-man pitching staff, the Yanks have a 5-man bench, one of whom will DH. This looks like a pretty ideal scenario:
Eitther Nady or Matsui DHs, leaving the other to pinch hit. Exactly who he’ll pinch hit for is another matter, since the lineup will be strong one through nine. Perhaps Swisher if he’s mired in a slump (won’t it be strange to see Swish hitting ninth when Melky and Posada are back?). Perhaps Gardner if he starts some games over Swish. In any case, this would also allow Gardner to pinch run, and then DeRosa to take over in the field. In other words, adding DeRosa would add some serious flexibility to the Yanks lineup. Not only is he competent in the field, but he has a major-league bat, which is more than we can say about Berroa, Ransom, and Pena.
Of course, the price tag is the issue. The Indians aren’t just going to give away DeRosa. He’ll likely be in demand by other contenders, so the Yanks will have to pony up a decent prospect. Since his name comes up every time we talk about non-Ajax prospects, would Zack McAllister do the trick? If he would, should the Yanks part with him for 1/2 a year of a utility infielder, even if he deepens the bench? It’s hard to justify that. After all, the Yanks could stick with the all-glove Pena as a replacement when Gardner pinch-runs for an infielder.
Yes, adding Mark DeRosa would be a nice luxury for the Yanks, but it is not at all necessary. If they can get him for a prospect of a lesser caliber than McAllister, they should consider it. However, if the price is Z-Mac or higher, they should probably back off. After all, we’re talking about a half year of a bench player vs. six controlled years of a mid-rotation starter. Which is not to say that is guaranteed for McAllister, but it is to say that dealing B+ prospects for bench players might not be the best idea.