Funny how a simple phone call can garner so much attention.
As you probably heard by this point, the Yankees reportedly contacted Jim Edmonds, who said he wants to play in 2010. Apparently the Yankees have contacted him, and Edmonds, despite his stated desire to play in St. Louis, will consider playing in New York. “That’s a pretty nice situation over there,” he said.
We know the Yankees want to sign a complementary left fielder, so the Edmonds connection was inevitable. I can’t imagine, however, that they’re very serious suitors. The 39-year-old, 40 in July, hasn’t played since 2008, and while he posted good numbers in limited duty for the Cubs, there’s no certainty that he can continue to produce at that level in 2010, especially with a move back to the AL.
For a few years Edmonds was among the best center fielders in baseball, perhaps the best in 2003, when he posted a 1.002 OPS and finished 17 spots behind Juan Pierre in the MVP race, and 2004, when he posted a 1.061 OPS. Those days, however, are far behind him, as he saw a decline in each of the three following years, ending his contract in St. Louis with a .252/.325/.403 campaign. He got off to a rough start in San Diego, too, OPSing .498 before they released him. Again, he played better once in Chicago, but that was over just 298 PA.
Edmonds presents a few problems. First, his defense appears on the decline. UZR typically rated him on the positive side from its inception in 2002 through 2006, but in 2007 he ran into the negatives, and then fell far into the negatives in 2008. He played center field those years, so perhaps a move to left would help cover up his diminished range. But can the Yankees expect even that, given his age and his year away from the game?
His platoon splits present an even bigger problem. During his prime he hit lefties just fine, showing even splits during his peak years of 2003 and 2004. But since 2006 he’s been downright terrible against lefties. This includes a .479 OPS in 2006, .631 in 2007, and .441 in 2008. Those all come in limited samples, and rightfully so. With an already lefty-heavy team, it doesn’t make sense to add yet another lefty who has trouble hitting lefties. The Yanks got into trouble with that in the mid-00s.
As I mentioned in the guide to off-season sanity, we hear plenty of noise and disinformation at this time of year. Maybe the Yankees did contact Edmonds about a possible minor-league deal. Other than that no-risk move, however, I don’t see a reason why the Yankees would pursue him. Maybe they’re just using him as leverage against Damon.