Would Mark DeRosa fit at a lower price point?


Brian Cashman does not love this year’s free agent class. He apparently loves next year’s, and he certainly loved last year’s, but that does not appear to be the case this year. A few attractive names topped, and still top, the free agent market, but none of them fit into the Yankees’ plans like Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. Unless he plans a super-stealth acquisition of Matt Holliday, which seems highly unlikely at this point, the Yankees are done shopping the top of the market. It’s time to start looking at the next few tiers for more complementary players.

Yesterday afternoon we linked to a story about Mark DeRosa’s desire to play for a winner, “period.” Plenty of players say that, though, and end up signing where the dollars take them. For a minute, though, let’s assume that DeRosa will sacrifice dollars for wins, and that he wants to play for his boyhood team, the Yankees. At what point does adding DeRosa to the roster make sense? Does it at all?

Mike examined DeRosa’s merits earlier this off-season when reports surfaced that his agent had talked to the Yankees. That was under the impression that DeRosa wanted three years and $27 million. No team will pay that for a soon-to-be 35-year-old, so Mike dismissed the idea out of hand. Recent reports suggest that DeRosa’s demands have come down, and are now in the $18-21 million range over three years. Even then, though, the price is too steep, especially to the Yankees, who in all likelihood view DeRosa as a luxury.

The only chance DeRosa has of playing for the Yankees is if he’s willing to sign a one-year deal in the $3 million range. Otherwise, I don’t see the Yankees biting. So does DeRosa’s statement still hold up here? Would he be willing to sacrifice that many dollars for a chance to play for the Yanks? Or will he take more dollars to play for a lesser organization? That is one of the most difficult decisions a baseball player has to make. They have a very small window to earn money at this profession, so many, if not most, of them opt for the most guaranteed dollars. I’m fairly certain there are teams that would offer DeRosa more than three million guaranteed dollars.

Even at a drastically reduced price, DeRosa comes with a red flag or two. As Mike mentioned earlier this month:

DeRosa is coming off wrist surgery, which I already mentioned a few times, and that generally saps a player’s power for a year or so. He’s also swinging at more pitches out of the zone (19.5% in 2007, 20.9% in 2008, 23.5% in 2009), and (not coincidently) he’s also making contact on a fewer percentage of the swings he takes (82.5%, 79.3%, 77.9% in those three years, respectively). Moving to the AL East, where power pitchers are plentiful, could lead to further regressing from DeRosa.

DeRosa suffered his wrist injury mid-season and played through it, though it clearly affected his numbers. Up until he “tweaked” his wrist on June 30, in just the third game of his Cardinals career, he was hitting .263/.336/.446, mostly with the Indians. From the point of injury through the end of the season he hit .235/.296/.417. His power remained, as he hit 10 home runs and 10 doubles in 254 plate appearances over that span, but all other aspects of his game fell off. The concern now is that his surgery will sap his power, his one strong point in 2009, in 2010.

If DeRosa makes a full recovery in time for the season, however, he can be useful to the Yankees. Many see him as a super-sub, but it’s unlikely he’d be the primary utility player. He played just two innings at second base in 2009, and has played 51 innings at shortstop since his 2005. Even if the Yankees were to sign DeRosa they’d still need to carry a true shortstop/second baseman. So where does that leave DeRosa?

We’ve spent many words discussing the Yankees outfield situation for 2010, and if DeRosa comes aboard his most likely role will be out there. If Curtis Granderson continues to struggle against lefties, DeRosa can spell him, taking over left field while shifting Melky Cabrera over to center. In 2008 DeRosa hit .310/.398/.397 against lefties. Even in his down 2009, he hit .278/.341/.587 against lefties, smacking 10 of his 23 home runs against them despite pacing them in just 138 of his 576 plate appearances. He holds a career .859 OPS against lefties.

The plan, however, is for Granderson to face lefties. Upon trading for him, Cashman noted that, “There’s nothing you can see that explains why he didn’t hit left handers.” DeRosa, then, would be a backup plan in case Kevin Long and the Yankees’ staff can’t turn around Granderson’s failures against lefties. Yet he’d still have a place on the team. Not only could he spell Alex Rodriguez at third base (though that won’t be as much of a need as it was in 09), he can also help out with a streaky outfield.

Both Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher are streaky hitters. They go through long stretches of futility, followed by hot streaks. All players do this, really — there’s no such thing as a robotically consistent hitter. But it seems to be more pronounced in Cabrera and Swisher. DeRosa could step in during a slump, eating up some plate appearances, hopefully providing production while either Cabrera or Swisher rests. With those three roles — part-time platoon partner for Granderson, slump caddy for Cabrera and Swisher, and occasional third baseman — maybe DeRosa can work in 350 to 400 at bats. Maybe.

When it comes time for DeRosa to decide, chances are he won’t choose a paltry offer from the Yankees, even if they were his boyhood team. Mike put it well: “I don’t see why an accomplished player like DeRosa would accept a handyman role with the Yanks when other clubs will be offering full-time gigs at a set position.” I don’t either. That is, unless it’s not all about the money for DeRosa. The only way he plays for the Yanks is if that’s the case. Otherwise he’ll likely find more money and a better situation elsewhere.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. J says:

    No he won’t. In my opinion, the issue with DeRosa (from his standpoint) is that he isn’t young. This is likely his only shot at a deal with a few years attached to it. If his power doesn’t come back, which I don’t think it will, on a one year deal he may win a World Series, but then he hits the market a year older and with lesser numbers to show for it.

    I see no way he doesn’t chase the dollars, and I don’t blame him. The Mets make a lot more sense.

    • Ed says:

      This is likely his only shot at a deal with a few years attached to it.

      That’s the key to this. He’s not turning down big money for small money. He’s only taking less to come here if it’s the Yankees small money vs someone else’s not quite as small money.

    • toad says:

      This sounds right to me. At 35 taking a one-year deal for low money seems really unattractive. It’s not like it gives him a chance to shine and get a big contract next year, as it might with a younger player.

  2. BrianM says:

    Nah man, put all the money in pitching. We have 4 reserve infielders taking up roster spots. It looks like Pena will be back as an elite defensive backup. Russo has a better bat than Corona or Russo right now and his best position is 3rd base. Best to give him a shot.

    We also have 4 solid outfielders and a 5th (Hoffmann) who could well get a shot.

    If we want to upgrade later in the year then we’ll be able to fill that spot easily for far less than DeRosa will earn.

    Unless we trade someone important for a starting pitcher we are set for position players.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Glenn Beck Complex says:

      Russo has a better bat than Russo? That guy must be good; we should give him a shot!

      • BrianM says:

        My bad, I meant Russo has a better bat than Nunez or Corona. (although now that you mention it Russo is better than Russo, except on Tuesdays)

  3. Anthony Murillo says:

    DeRosa graduated from my high school, so I personally would like to see him in pinstripes

  4. Ed says:

    They have a very small window to earn money at this profession, so many, if not most, of them opt for the most guaranteed dollars.

    That’s certainly true, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that the vast majority of players to put on an MLB uniform end up retiring without the chance at a multi-million dollar contract. It’s only a small percent of players that sniff the majors that actually end up even getting the chance to think about the contract offers DeRosa is tossing around.

    Once you get to guys who have career earnings in the 8 figure range, the odds of turning down some money for a chance to win go up a lot.

    With the numbers we’re tossing around here, he’d basically have to give up about as much money as he’s earned in his entire career, so I think that’s still too much money to turn down. But if he has to lower his demands further, a cheap deal with the Yankees becomes much more realistic.

  5. Meh. Pass. I’m just so unimpressed with DeRosa.

  6. radnom says:

    Mike put it well: “I don’t see why an accomplished player like DeRosa would accept a handyman role with the Yanks when other clubs will be offering full-time gigs at a set position.” I don’t either.

    I don’t know why everyone assumes this is the scenario.

    I’m sure that if the Yankees make an offer in the range of 1 year 3-5 million it would be for the role of starting LF, not “handyman”.

    He would upgrade for one season if he could be had on the cheap. I would rather they sign some more pitching, but just because the rest of the baseball world overrates Derosa doesn’t make it ok to completely underrate him. He would be the starting LF on this team, as it is currently constructed.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      I’m not sure about that.

      • radnom says:

        Instead of making a vague statement, would you like to explain why Derosa would not be an upgrade over Melky/Gardner?

        It could be debatable, but Derosa is clearly the better hitter and I think if the Yankees actually have interest it would show that they value him over Gardbrera.

        • Keanu Reeves says:

          I made a vague statement because it accurately reflected how I feel about your comment: I’m not sure.

          Derosa may be an upgrade offensively but when you factor in defense, I’m not sure he’s enough of an upgrade.

          Fair enough?

          • radnom says:

            Yes, because that is actually a legitimate argument.

            Still though, its as if no on is even remotely considering the fact that the Yankees would sign him for anything other than UTI.

            • Keanu Reeves says:

              I’ll consider that. But I think Derosa would be most valuable as a utility player.

              • radnom says:

                I think his outfield defense if better than you give it credit for. If he rebounds from that wrist injury (not an insignificant “if”) he would be the starting LF on this team.

                Or perhaps one of the other OF are in the mystery trade?
                Seriously how do we not know anything at this point? Its like the days before the internet.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  let me get my rotary phone to call the store 24 to see when they get in tuesday’s edition of the news. Then I can head on down there for some coffee and the news which will hopefully hold all the answers.

                  if not I can always watch the 5 oclock news on fox for info, or the 6 oclock news on nbc. if not then i will have to wait til the 11 oclock news.

                  oh the pain!

    • Bo says:

      He’d probably start over Melky in LF and he’d get ab’s at DH/3b.

      Not like he wouldnt get 450+ ab’s

  7. jim says:

    just say no to Delarosa

  8. [...] Joseph Pawlikowski of Yankees Blog, toys with the numbers and sees if the Yankees may be able to sign free agent Mark DeRosa to a lower price [...]

  9. Bernard says:

    DeRosa > Melky for LF.

    2.9, 2.6, 3.8, 1.7
    1.6, 0.6, 0.1, 1.6

    Those are WAR for the last 4 seasons – DeRosa is simply a better player. Playing hurt for a good deal of last season, with a torn wrist tendon, DeRosa was still better than Melky’s best season. In fairly limited action he also projects as an above average corner outfielder.

    I’d rather have Gardner start over either of them, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen…

    • Mike Pop says:

      Doesn’t a lot of the WAR value come from DeRosa playing a bunch of different positions though?

      • Bernard says:

        My understanding of WAR is that there’s a hybrid adjustment for the time at each position – DeRosa’s cumulative WAR numbers are based on whatever percent of his time is at 2B or 3B or OF etc. – Melky gets the inflation of CF where offense is significantly less than the corners just as DeRosa gets help from spending time at 2B in his Chicago years. And even by doing that WAR takes into account defensive abilities so if DeRosa is a butcher at 2nd base, for example, his offense must make up for it significantly to post a strong WAR.

        • DeRosa spent a large amount of time (105 games) at third base in ’09. His positional adjustment was only -0.6 because of this and his relatively limited time in the OF. Had he played a full season in LF, his position adjustment would’ve been much worse and his WAR would’ve taken a big hit. The same goes for his other seasons. DeRosa, with his bat as a full time LF, is not a 2-3 WAR player.

          • In fact, let’s run some numbers for clarity. Adding the LF positional adjustment for DeRosa, -7.5, let’s see how he fares. For defense, I’m going to use DeRosa’s career UZR/150 in LF of -1.1:

            2006: 1.6
            2007: 1.6
            2008: 3.1
            2009: 1.2

            What looks like the outlier?

            • Bernard says:

              You can’t take the -1.1 in LF in 59 games and ignore the +21.6 in RF in 160 games, that’s ridiculous. Go by the cume OF number of +15.8.

              • Yeah, you’re right, the sample’s real small for LF. But it’s also pretty small for RF. Using that cumulative number isn’t going to work either, though, because it’s also in a small sample and has fluctuated wildly, anywhere from -13 to +30, in no more than 60 games in RF. DeRosa’s likely somewhere in the middle, but I’d doubt highly it’s as high as +16.

                • Bernard says:

                  I’d be content to say he’s somewhere between a +3 and +5 UZR/150 at a corner OF spot but I lean towards the later. The usual projection for a -7 3B is that they’re a +3 COF, but DeRosa has the advantage of having beaten that number over the course of his career by a significant margin so I’m inclined to give him a slight bump (maybe he picks up fly balls well or runs good routes? scouting reports would have some value here) to a +5 or so UZR/150.

                • /runs to Google Spreadsheets


                  He’s projected at +2 for LF.

                • Bernard says:

                  Fair point on that one, age isn’t a benefit to him. I was just going by the general conversion standard based on his career number. Last year he was actually a bit down at -8.5 UZR/150 at 3rd base, I was going by his career -7 number because I’m under the impression that some of that decline was based on the wrist injury. I believe but for the wrist injury he’d project back at +3 for LF next year, but I could definitely be mistaken.

                  Fun debate on this one – good to keep a real discussion going.

            • Bernard says:

              And even if we take those numbers, they’re still better than Cabrera.

          • Bernard says:

            But his defense would have been stronger in LF than at 3B. Generally speaking a -7 UZR/150 3B (as DeRosa is for his career) projects as roughly a +3 UZR/150 corner outfielder. DeRosa has played at a +16 UZR/150 as a corner outfielder in his career.

            Not saying he’s a gold glover, but that defensive improvement would make up for a good deal of the reweighed offensive stats.

            Also my point isn’t that DeRosa is a 4 win player, just that he’s more than a $3 mil a year player and is a better option for the left field spot than Melky. The marginal value of a win is roughly $4.4 mil for 2010, according to fangraphs, meaning if DeRosa plays at a slight improvement on last year as a 2 win player he would be worth nearly $9 million.

            • And Cabrera’s slight improvement to a 2.0 WAR, which while not the likeliest of scenarios, is definitely possible. In a way, his 2.0 WAR would be worth “more” (I’m going abstract here) than DeRosa’s since his salary would be lower. That is, Cabrera would bring more surplus value than DeRosa. Melky also offers the ability to play CF, which DeRosa doesn’t do; he may be able to play the IF positions, but it’s unlikely he does that very much. The $3-5MM used for DeRosa would be better spent elsewhere in 2010.

              • Bernard says:

                I just think it’s more likely that DeRosa plays at 2 (or higher) WAR level next year than Cabrera – very little in the underlying numbers tells me Cabrera is primed to improve except for his age (going into his age 25 season). Melky’s highest slugging percentage ever was .416 last year and that’s the only time he’s been over .400. DeRosa hasn’t had a slugging percentage as low as .416 in the last 5 years.

                I’d love to see Melky bloom into a really good player, his robbing Manny of that would-be home run off Farnsworth is one of my favorite memories of recent seasons. I just don’t see it happening.

                • ery little in the underlying numbers tells me Cabrera is primed to improve except for his age (going into his age 25 season).

                  You know what the worst part is? Melky should be improving, based on age and experience and all. I want him to, and a small part of me thinks he can, but about 90% of me thinks that there’s not going to be any improvement. What a tease, huh? Anyway, I’d just rather roll the dice with Melky and use the hypothetical DeRosa money elsewhere, where the need is likely greater.

                  I’d love to see Melky bloom into a really good player, his robbing Manny of that would-be home run off Farnsworth is one of my favorite memories of recent seasons. I just don’t see it happening.

                  Yeah, that was awesome. My roommate at the time (@ Hofstra) and I Yelled so loudly in exuberance at that play that people down the hall came to make sure we were alright.

                • Bernard says:






                  Which line-up makes you feel best about the 2010 Yankees? I sure like that DeRosa one…

                  Also I like DeRosa because he’d be a better fill-in than Pena if, Mo forbid, A-Rod’s hip acts up again. I guess the biggest drawback to DeRosa is he would require moving one of Cabrera, Gardner or Hoffman. Assuming 13 position players are carried (Posada, Teixeira, Cano, Rodriguez, Jeter, Granderson, Swisher and Johnson, DeRosa are locks) leaves spots on the bench for Cervelli (or Rivera), Pena (or Russo/Corono/Nunez) and two out of Gardner/Cabrera/Hoffman…

                  DeRosa’s versatility makes him appealing too because even if A-Rod is healthy DeRosa would be a better once a week or so fill-in at the hot corner than Pena (who on a non-DeRosa roster would seemingly be the only possible substitute for Rodriguez).

  10. Bernard says:

    Olney says on twitter: Apropos of something, or maybe nothing:As part of their process about evaluating possible starting pitcher targets,the NYY have talked to the Pirates about their SP: Maholm, Duke, Ohlendorf. Is this what the Yankees are working on now? Not sure yet. But they are working.

    • Bernard says:

      But Morosi says “One source says the Yankees aren’t trading for Duke or Maholm of the Pirates. So, I suppose the search continues.”

      • Bernard says:

        Sherman says: Yankees working hard to re-acquire Javier Vazquez, I have learned, link to follow soon

        and: Braves have always liked Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera, but haven’t been able to determine yet who Yankees would surrender

  11. [...] Matt Holliday and Jason Bay remain too steep for the Bombers. As Joe wrote last night, if the price is right on Mark DeRosa, he could be a good fit. Posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 2:36 pm [...]

  12. Angelo says:

    Derosa will go back to the Cardinals to play 3rd Base since Freese is now in question. They also have the most need for Holliday, so will so what it takes to resign him as well.

    I say go for Jason Bay.

  13. [...] DeRosa. While the Yankees apparently didn’t make him a primary target, he could have been a serviceable option at the right price. The Giants reportedly had an offer of two years and $12 million on the table, which is probably [...]

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