Could LaRoche make Conor Jackson available?


Now that the Diamondbacks appear to have landed Adam LaRoche, they have themselves a bit of an old fashioned logjam at first base and left field. No one in their right mind will take on the corpse of Eric Byrnes and his $11M salary, nor would the Diamondbacks even entertain the idea of moving dirt cheap and extremely talented youngsters Brandon Allen, The Justin Upton, and Gerardo Parra. Chris Young is stuck in limbo given his declining performance and contract that runs through 2013, so it seems that if GM Josh Byrnes wants to maximize an asset and optimize his roster, his best bet would be to move former Cal-Berkeley star Conor Jackson.

What makes CoJack so desirable is pretty obvious, the guy is a tremendous offensive player when healthy. He’s a career .281-.361-.431 hitter in the big leagues, .292-.371-.451 with a .369 wOBA in his three full seasons, though that’s just part of the story. Jackson does his best work against lefty pitchers (.297-.396-.470 career vs. LHP), and he’s demonstrated the ability to hit both fastballs and breaking balls, finesse pitchers and power pitchers, you name it.

Adding on to that, Jackson also fits the Yankee mold of being a patient hitter, seeing just about 3.7 pitches per plate appearance in his career. He’s swung at just 18.9% of the pitches he’s seen outside of the strike zone during his career, and despite working all those deep counts, Jackson is also a high contact hitter that comes without the caveat of high strikeout totals. He’s struck out just 211 times in 1,624 career plate appearances, and has made contact on 87.6% of the swings he’s taken, which is Robbie Cano territory. It’s easy to see the value in that.

Defensively, Jackson is a bit better than I originally thought in left. In just over 850 innings at the position (an admittedly small sample size), he’s posted an essentially league average -0.3 UZR, and Jeff Zimmerman’s age-adjusted UZR Projections have him at +2 UZR next year. The Fan’s Scouting Report grades him out decently as well. He’s also capable of playing first, though that doesn’t matter much to the Yanks. Jackson has been worth 1.62 runs above average on the bases in non-stolen base situations during his career, although he’s been steadily improving in recent years. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just assume he’s a slightly below average defender in left and dead average on the bases.

Last year was the first (and only) time Jackson has hit the disabled list in his career, and it was because of a bout with Valley Fever of all things. It ended his year in mid-May, though Jackson showed he was healthy by hitting .425-.561-.589 with more walks than strikeouts in 23 winter ball games after the season. He’s had a few day-to-day soreness type of things throughout the years, but who hasn’t. No big deal. The problem, well two problems, are that Jackson is under contract with the Diamondbacks, so the Yanks would have to trade to acquire him, plus he’s not cheap.

In 2009, his first year of arbitration, Jackson pulled in $3.05M, and tonight we found out that he agreed to the same $3.1M salary for 2010 as Melky Cabrera. The Yanks reportedly have only $2M to spend on left, so some money would have to be moved to make it work. Given Arizona’s need for another arm, maybe Chad Gaudin (likely to get $2.5-$3M in arb) and a quality prospect would work. Jackson is arbitration eligible for the final time in 2011, so any team that acquires him would be getting two years of service. Given their lack of outfield depth in the farm system, the Yanks could certainly benefit from having that extra outfielder around next year.

Like anything else, the price has to be right. Given Brian Cashman‘s absurd track record of thievery on the trade market, I trust his ability to pull off a favorable deal for the Bombers. Arizona already has  seven guys on the 40-man capable of playing the same positions as Jackson, most of whom are considerably cheaper as well. Diamondbacks’ GM Josh Byrnes has himself a surplus and a valuable trade chip, and the Yanks match up in a potential deal. Hopefully they at least kick the tires.

Photo Credit: Matt York, AP

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. A.D. says:

    I would be a huge fan of getting Jackson, though I don’t know if the Yankees want to spend more prospects in one offseason.

  2. mustang says:

    I was thinking they should pick up Eric Byrnes because the Diamondbacks are thinking about releasing him the cost would be little, but this sounds a lot better.

  3. JFH says:

    i am for it, but wondering who you think would be the quality prospect.

  4. Joe B. says:

    The cost thing isn’t really that much of an issue, considering the Yankees would be removing someone from the 25-man and saving that $400k; they’d only be about $0.7M short in that case, and that won’t be a dealbreaker.

    I don’t think Arizona moves him, though. If they’re trying to field the best team they can in a wide-open NL West, they have to hang onto him.

  5. The Evil Empire says:

    This is the BEST option out of the more realistic ones.

    It’s also the little piece we need, Jackson will make the 10′ line-up better than the 09′.

  6. Baseballnation says:

    Jackson is a superior contact hitter but Gardner prsents two great elements Jackson does not, and they are two elements the yankees need if you look at the current lineup- Speed, and Defense. Speed is obvious, When Gardner touches first base he’s a constant threat to put himself in scoring position with his legs…with regular playing time, 50 sb’s are very realistic. And his defense no matter how you measure it or squabble about the breaks he takes to balls, is ‘phenomenal’ at any outfield spot.

    • Drew says:

      Until a player swipes 50 bags, I’m not going to assume they’ll swipe 50 bags.

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

        Jose Molina swipes 70. Book it.

      • Baseballnation says:

        I didn’t say he woud, but h does present the real possibility. He swiped 26 in limited at bats last year…

        • Baseballnation says:

          And forgive the mispelling I tried to type quick and when I do that on the laptop awkward words come out.

        • Salty Buggah says:

          Well, that’s kinda unfair. He was also a pinch runner a lot of times so that SB total is somewhat inflated.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

            It’s not unfair at all. You think a player will steal more bases as an occasional starter and occasional pinch runner than he will as a regular starter? I disagree.

            You have two options with Gardner in 2010, assuming he’s on the MLB roster all year: (1) He’s the everyday starter and, thus, gets on base much more than he did in 2009 and in all likelihood steals (a lot) more bases, or (2) he’s a starter in about half the games if he’s handcuffed to a platoon partner, and he pinch runs in many games that he doesn’t start.

            Either way, there’s no reason to think he won’t steal bases at a similar rate to his 2009 season just because some of his 2009 steals came as a pinch runner.

            • Ed says:

              I think what he’s saying is that you can’t say Gardner stole 1 base for every X plate appearances in 2009 and expect that ratio to hold if he’s given a full time job.

              He stole a bunch of bases as a pinch runner, which means he got steals without having a plate appearance. That makes his steal rate look better than it really was.

              It’s probably safe to assume that when he gets used as a pinch runner, he’s usually expected to try to steal. When he’s in the starting lineup and reaches base, he’s going to be more selective in choosing his spots to steal.

              With regular playing time, I’d expect his stolen bases per plate appearance to drop, but the total stolen bases to end up high.

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

                Right… But my point is that, in all likelihood, Gardner will still be pinch-running a decent amount in 2010, so it’s not really as unfair as he thinks to use his 2009 steals per PA numbers as a reference. Sure, if he’s the full-time LFer, the ratio will probably drop a bit. What’s most likely, though? What’s more likely is that he’ll be semi-regular out there, and he’ll still pinch-run a decent amount. It’s not like the guy’s never going to pinch-run again.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Well, you can’t assume that but it is a likely thing that Gardy will steal 50 bags with regular playing time (which obviously we aren’t sure he’ll get/deserve) unless his OBP falls of the cliff.

        • Drew says:

          Eh.. Is it likely though?

          I mean yeah, if he gets 500 AB’s he’s probably going to get it simply because in order for him to get 500 AB’s he needs to produce.
          To me, that’s like saying Edwar is likely to get 50 K’s if he gets regular playing time.

          • Salty Buggah says:

            Well, I’m one of those who think Gardner’s OBP won’t plummet. I think it MIGHT go down to the .330 range but not anything drastically low like .305. So, I think in 500 ABs and with at least a .330 OBP, he has a pretty good shot at 50.

    • mustang says:

      With all respect you are high.

      Jackson >>>>>>>> Gardner.

      I don’t care how many elements you are talking about.

      • Baseballnation says:

        With all respect, no he’s not. Better, fine, I stated he was the superior contact hitter no question but Gardner’s superior defense adds quantiative power to the arguement.

        • mustang says:

          Jackson would probably be better defensively then Damon. If they put that bat in that line-up it’s OVER. Whatever Gardner brings in speed and defense Jackson can make up in production its not even close.

        • mustang says:

          Can someone please tell me how many great catches and throws would Gardner have to make to beat a line lie this:

          “He’s a career .281-.361-.431 hitter in the big leagues, .292-.371-.451 with a .369 wOBA in his three full seasons, though that’s just part of the story. Jackson does his best work against lefty pitchers (.297-.396-.470 career vs. LHP),”

          They won a Championship last year with Damon in LF for God sakes.

          • Salty Buggah says:

            Unless Gardy keeps his elite 20+ UZR/150 defense and a near .350 OBP over a full season (no one knows and even if he does, I think it would equal Jackson’s WAR…well, maybe barely more), Jackson would easily out WAR Gardy.

            • mustang says:

              I will take what i know over what I don’t know.

              Ahhhhh…Gardner thing….too far.

              • Salty Buggah says:

                Well, I’m just basing what I said over the 2009 WARs. I’m assuming Jackson will produce like Damon (who WAR’d 3.0 in 2009) offensively and significantly better on defense. Gardy, in his limited time, WAR’d 2.3 so if he can do that over a full season, he can probably match Jackson.

                For Gardy, a LOT has to go right to even match Jackson but if he replicates his 2009 rates over a full season, he’ll be very very valuable. But Jackson being more productive than Gardner is the most probably thing IMO.

        • As a defense first CF I buy the argument about Gardner. In LF I do not because he simply won’t get as many opportunities to make the same kind of impact.

          If Jackson is not awful in LF he is a better option than Gardner.

          He might not be an actual option but I wouldn’t even think five minutes before swapping the two if given the chance (for LF).

      • JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

        It’s lithium, isn’t it?

      • Mater of all Trades says:

        C.Jackson >>> Gardner.
        To think otherwise, well, you are not thinking.

        • Drew says:

          But teh uzzer 150.

        • barry says:

          oh wait so you can assume cj is far greater than bg but anyone who assumes gardner has a good year is a dick? my bad but you’re all fucked…. you all love the small sample size with gard so how about the 30 game sample size that jackson hit 182 in? OMG WTF cRAZY!!1! you’re all fuckin crazy if you think conor jackson will have a 360+ wOBA in the al east. and have you checked this guy’s defensive metrics? because if you didn’t like Damon patrolling left, how are you going to feel when the half broke converted first basemen is walloping around out there… but gardner supporters are still… fucking crazy

      • barry says:

        and you’re having a pipe dream, so who’s more diluted?

    • barry says:

      oh shit yo everyone look a gardner fan jump!@123F@#$#uc@#$KIFOFF)

  7. Drew says:

    Eh, it would be sick but I doubt that we would provide them with the best return.

    Re: 2 mil left to spend.

    I doubt that that number would keep us from getting a quality piece. Also, I doubt that number came straight from the horses mouth. The ninja is not seen and certainly not heard.

  8. mustang says:

    The more I think about it the more I like it it’s almost a Javier Vazquezish type of move.

  9. JMK aka The Overshare's Garden Apartment Complex says:

    If say it is Gaudin, making the salary pretty much irrelevant, what level of prospect are you willing to lose?

    Who does Gaudin+Z-Mac for CoJa (not multi-pass)? What about Gaudin+ ManBan for CoJa? Gaudin+Bleich+Russo? (But would they? Probably not.)

    It would seem that the prospect would have to be pretty good, and I’d assume they’re looking for pitching. Considering the amount of depth we’ve already given up in trades and Rule V this off-season, it may not be the time to be tossing more on a piece that likely isn’t necessary. It all depends on the prospect involved, IMO.

  10. Camilo Gerardo says:

    i wouldn’t really want to give up any more position prospects, preferably; the only guy there that has really maxed his value out (upper minors) is the Jesus. me wants to see how Suttle, Almonte, Deleon, Joseph, Nunez, Romine, Mesa et al do. Jackson would be close to the murderer’s row y’all want, though. me included. depends on teh deal of course

  11. mike c says:

    sounds like a perfect fit

  12. Crazy Eyes Killa says:

    I wouldnt want to part with anything meaningful at this point after the Granderson and Javy deals the system is a lot weaker…..What I would do is give GO-DAN for CO-JACK in a heartbeat and throw in a filler. Or do what people (myself included) were saying last night sign hairston and baldelli

  13. r.w.g. says:

    I would not have a problem trading away a good player to get Conor Jackson. He has some power and will drive in runs at the bottom of the order. If he has a representative season he is a worthwhile upgrade over Gardner.

    Gardner + Adams + Bleich? Austin Romine + cash, straight up?

  14. r.w.g. says:

    Well Arizona is going to want something good. They don’t really need to move him.

  15. [...] Should the Yankees consider Conor Jackson as a trade option to fill the left field [...]

  16. gargoyle says:

    This is the problem with have like 10 of Theo’s caddies now GMing around MLB.

  17. This would be a great acquisition, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

  18. Mo says:

    I agree Conor Jackson is the perfect fit.

    “Arizona is going to want something good” So give them something good. Fair value.

    The other perfect fit is a cheap Damon and Byrnes if AZ releases him.

  19. pat says:

    I’d love Jackson but I’m betting Arizona makes the cost too prohibitive. I’m fine with just spending money on Carl Crawford next year.

  20. Jammy Jammers says:

    Conor Jackson = (Austin Jackson – strikeouts) + Action Jackson + awesome!

  21. Section 39 says:

    Conor Jackson is going to play LF for them next year. LaRoche is playing 1B. How does the LaRoche move make Conor Jackson expendable or tradable? He’s cheap as heck and for all the reasons you have already said, a great player. Why would they trade him for Gaudin and a prospect? There is a much better chance they will trade or can someone a little more expensive — like Byrnes. Jackson is going nowhere so don’t get your hopes up on this…

    • Doug says:

      i hear you on jackson, but there isn’t a chance in the world they can deal byrnes, with his sub-.700 OPS and $11M salary. they’re actually talking about just releasing him.

      • Section 39 says:

        Exactly, so they release him and then its done. If they release Byrnes, Jackson is still going nowhere.

        • Doug says:

          of course.

          the issue with outright releasing him though is, as a franchise, can they absorb the $11M hit. i would think not.

          • Ed says:

            They’re paying that $11m no matter what. They’re stuck with that bill.

            The question now is simply does keeping Byrnes on the roster help the team more than cutting him and using the roster spot on someone else.

    • A.D. says:

      Before they signed LaRoche

      Conor Jackson was slotted to play first, with Parra & Upton in the OF, and then presumably Byrnes, Young filling in the 3rd spot

      Or Brandon Allen would play 1st.

  22. Rose says:

    Wouldn’t you think the Braves have much better prospects to dish out than us to make a trade for this guy if the Dbacks were actually serious about dangling him?

    That is…IF the Braves even need another outfielder…which I still don’t understand…

  23. Rose says:

    I also see people writing about Byrnes being a good fit for us. I can’t remember the last time he played a game…I think I was still in college. And if I remember correctly, isn’t he made of glass?

    • Rose says:

      The soon-to-be 34-year-old has been restricted by hamstring problems since inking his deal, playing in just 136 games in the last two seasons. The outfielder has posted .218/.271/.382 during this time. – MLBTR


  24. Bo says:

    At least jackson can hit. He would also put Gardner in the spot where he would succeed. As the 4th OF. Someone getting his 400+ abs split among all 3 positions.

  25. LarryM, FL. says:

    Byrnes to me appears out of control, the only time I observe him is on highlight videos, diving or jumping into midair with no ball in his glove. I’d forget him, quick. As far as Jackon he sounds like a great young fit with better experience than Hoffmann. My concern comes with the weakening of our pitching staff. Gaudin to me provided stability at the back end of the rotation or long relief. A good team needs 7or 8 starters. If we were to trade Gaudin then our availability of 7/8 starters is dwindling with Hughes and Aceves remaining. How may times can you bring Hughes back ad forth before a physical breakdown occurs.

    I’d explore the options with the Diamond backs and go from there. Conor Jackon sounds good but the cost in talent not money.

    • LarryM, FL. says:

      Sorry about the spelling of Jackson’s last name just copying it as in the title. I guess I jumped with the leader.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Well Mitre should improve as he is recovering from TJ surgery still. He could be used. Then there’s some options in the minors like Ian Nova and Zach McAllister (maybe).

    • A.D. says:

      Byrnes to me appears out of control, the only time I observe him is on highlight videos, diving or jumping into midair with no ball in his glove. I’d forget him, quick.

      This isn’t really a logical argument on why one would “forget him, quick”. Especially where your sample is highlight videos, which just look to show those type of clips.

      The actual facts are a healthy Byrnes should play an avg to slightly above avg outfield, and OPS in the mid 700, with a SB threat. The main difference between him and BG if they’re both on is BG will probably provide better speed/sb at this point, should provide better defense, and would probably have a lower OPS, but a better OBP.

  26. Rose says:

    According to MLBTR, it seems like the Diamondbacks are probably going to release Byrnes…and hang on to (John) Conor Jackson. This probably makes the most sense…and I doubt they’ll release Byrnes AND trade Conor away…that just doesn’t make sense.

    So therefore, this thread should be changed to “Why On Earth Would We Ever Even Think About Picking Up Eric Byrnes?”

  27. Steve in PDX says:

    They avoided arb with CoJax, anyone think this changes the trade possibilities?

  28. Frank says:

    CoJack sounds good to me for LF.

    How about Mitre & Igawa for CoJack(LOL)???

    More realistic Mitre & Hoffmann… probably unacceptable

    Best bet Gaudin & A or AA prospect(ex Monterro)… probably gets it done

    CoJack is a good option

  29. Byrnes DFA’d.

    Much less likely now.

    • Section 39 says:

      Not just “much less likely”, more like not happening. Better yet, this was never happening. There was never any good reason to trade Jackson really from the DBacks standpoint.

  30. [...] last night I used this space to make a case for the Yankees potentially acquiring Conor Jackson, and now I’m going to write about another Diamondbacks’ outfielder, Eric Byrnes. [...]

  31. pete luciano says:

    Why in the world would Arizona trade Jackson, he’s cheap, a good player, and they just released Byrnes. Gaudin, Mitre, and prospects just won’t get it done. Damon’s our best bet, let’s face it and we can probably get him for only 1 yr. Hang in there Johnny I’d love to have you back.

  32. Danny Glover says:

    I hope they don’t get of Jackson. He played well during the Dominican Winter League.


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