Yanks pick up OF Justin Maxwell

A look ahead at potentially available starting pitchers
The RAB Radio Show: February 2, 2011
With that swing Maxwell drove in four. (John Bazemore/AP)

Via MLBTR we learn that the Yankees have acquired recently DFA’d outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Nationals. It’s not a particularly big move, but it does give the Yankees a potential fifth outfielder, as well as some depth for AAA. That is, he’ll likely push Greg Golson back to the minors. The Yankees will send Adam Olbrychowski to the Nationals.

Maxwell, 27, was rated the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect heading into the 2010 season. Baseball America call him a “physical specimen with plus athleticism” and noted his patience and power potential. His review ends with an encouraging note, too: “If he hits, he can be a valuable four-tool player.” In between, though, were a few negatives, including injuries, inconsistent contact skills, and a poor arm. The injuries remain an issue: Max well recently underwent Tommy John surgery, though he’s expected back for spring training.

The Nationals have recalled Maxwell in three seasons, but he’s managed just 260 PA in his career. In 2009 it appeared he was on the path to regular playing time, as he produced a .357 wOBA, which included plenty of power, in 102 PA. But in 2010 he fell off, a mere .279 wOBA in 131 PA. Even in AAA he experienced a power dip, though his .390 OBP helped compensate.

The Yanks aren’t asking much of Maxwell. He’s out of options, so either he makes the team or he heads back through the waiver process. (Edit: He does have a remaining option.) I think he’s a better option than Greg Golson, but even if he’s not there’s little risk in this move. The only downside is having to remove someone from the 40-man roster. That man is Jordan Parraz. They still have to remove someone for Andruw Jones. Mike and I discussed 40-man roster issues on a recent podcast.

This move won’t make an enormous difference in the 2011 season, but it’s another example of the Yankees shoring up when there’s an opportunity. If Maxwell helps, great. If not, he’s easily expendable. We’ve criticized Brian Cashman in the past for not using his resources to build powerful benches. It appears this year that he’s put a bit more focus on that aspect of the team.

Bonus: Here’s another Maxwell grand slam.

Update by Mike (2:58pm): Joel Sherman says that Maxwell does in fact have one option remaining, which is excellent news.

A look ahead at potentially available starting pitchers
The RAB Radio Show: February 2, 2011
  • Esteban

    Good, more depth and options are always a good thing. The Yankees won’t rely on him for anything significant and he’s cheap. Low risk and any reward is a positive. Yet somehow, I feel someone (not necessarily on RAB) will criticize Cashman for this and make some sort of joke saying Maxwell’s the final piece to the puzzle. Oh well, such is life.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Good move. Hope Andy comes back and a another move for a starting pitcher.

  • vin

    Is there a link to Parraz getting booted off the 40 man?

  • http://bleedingallblue.blogspot.com mleetch352

    Sherman is saying that Maxwell has one option left


  • vin

    “The Yanks aren’t asking much of Maxwell. He’s out of options, so either he makes the team or he heads back through the waiver process. ”

    Sherman just said he has an option left. Still not sure why the whole option thing is such a mystery that can only be confirmed by Minor League Directors.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      The option rules aren’t entirely clear. Sometimes players get fourth options for age-related reasons (although usually they only get three), and sometimes the league office grants extra option years if teams petition for them (usually for injury).

      So it’s not always clear-cut when players are out of options and when they’re not.

      • Ed

        There’s also little issues like if a player doesn’t spent 20 days on an active minor league roster, it doesn’t count as using an option.

        Brackman’s a good case of abusing the option rules. His first season he signed around August 15th and was optioned to a team who ended their season on August 30th. No option burned. He spent a year on the 60 day DL, avoiding using an option, and he gets an extra option for missing a season. Despite being added to the 40 man in ’07, he doesn’t have to stick in the majors until ’13.

  • Teh Comp Pick

    Seems like the Nat’s gave up on him at a pretty young age. Definitely some upside there.

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    I like any move that doesn’t generate 82,000 “Cashman is trying to put together the 2002 All-Star team” tweets and articles.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    The best part of that grand slam video is when the announcer screams “TWO FOR TWOOOO!” Totally uncalled for.

    • radnom

      That reminded me of this story for some reason, and it always makes me laugh (warning: incoming wall of text):

      I ran cross country and track in high school, which made me an athlete, but not the kind that had hand-eye coordination.

      After school, there was a pick up game of basketball at the park next to the school and the guys playing needed an extra person to make the teams fair. The fact that they asked me meant that they really needed someone, anyone.

      The cheerleaders were sitting on the bleachers, watching the game after their practice, because there were cool guys playing. I decided to play, partially because it was a chance for cool guys to learn my name, and partially because I had a huge crush on the one cheerleader who was actually nice to me.

      Anyway, the game goes on, I’m playing a little D and keeping up, but have yet to make a shot. Fortunately, I’m a distance runner, and I’m not even winded at this point when everyone else is start to really slow down.

      At one point, I get a rebound somewhere around the foul line and turn around toward the opposite basket for the easy layup. It’s just me and an empty goal. None of these guys have a chance of keeping up with me since I’m the only one with the super-human cardiovascular system of an elite athlete who can run ten miles without breaking a sweat. At least that was the theory going through my head at the time.

      I’m not sure why I did it, maybe to impress my future cheerleader girlfriend, or maybe to talk a little shit to all the cool guys who have been schooling me up to this point, but as I’m dribbling I yell out “COAST TO COAST” as loud as I can as I’m approaching the other basket. Easy layup. All I have to do is get the ball in the basket once for a little respect, and maybe that cheerleader will know my name.

      Maybe it was adrenaline or nervousness, but the “easy” layup ended up shooting five feet over the backboard, I watched it sail, in slow motion, down the hill, bouncing into the woods.

      When I turned around, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, players, onlooking cheerleaders, even a member of the faculty was curled up in the fetal position, lying on the ground, tears streaming down their faces, laughing at me.

      We never found the ball, so I never had a chance to redeem myself. From that day forward, everyone would yell “coast to coast” every time I’d walk into a classroom, even people who weren’t there.

      • I Voted 4 Kodos

        I laughed. A lot.

      • Pounder

        Cheerleaders at a pick up game in an outdoor park????????

  • Monteroisdinero

    Golson. Arm/speed/defense. We got plenty of offense.

    /nuff said

    • Esteban

      You should be monteroisdinero/golsonisawesome

      • Monteroisdinero

        How much PT will a 5th OFer get? If our OF stays healthy-none. At least Golson can spell Swish in the late innings as needed.

        I like my home boys.

        Do I say “knew it” when Bex goes all gaga over Monsieur Pettitte?

        • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

          How in any way is Golson a home boy?

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          I like my home boys.
          Not really sure how Golson is a home boy. He’s not from the farm system.

          Do I say “knew it” when Bex goes all gaga over Monsieur Pettitte?
          a. you’re perfectly entitled to;
          b. at least Andy Pettitte is, you know. Good.

        • Esteban

          Golson is a 5/6th outfielder. Andy Pettitte has been one of best pitchers in Yankees history. I mean, hell, golson is not even Montero. It’s fine you have you guys, but why Golson?

        • Ted Nelson

          “How much PT will a 5th OFer get? If our OF stays healthy-none.”

          You can’t just assume health and happiness all season for everyone (especially with Gardner literally recovering from injury). If the OF doesn’t stay healthy a 5th OF could well see a lot of playing time. If Andruw Jones stinks or has an ego trip… same.

          Getting Maxwell doesn’t kick Golson out of the system. He can still beat out Maxwell in ST. He can still earn a call-up. Simply getting Maxwell is not a definite indication he’ll even make the roster.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Monteroisdinero/Golsonisgolden would be better.

        • Monteroisdinero

          Not bad. Not sure if I prefer it to MolsenforGolson.

          It’s all good.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Knew it

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    Fine move. Not expecting him to do anything but he’s better than Golson.

  • Dave Mancuso

    YES! We got Justin Maxwell!

    YESSSSSSS!!! Words can’t describe my excitement!

    ….no, really. They can’t describe it.

  • Dr. O

    Going over scouting reports for players like Maxwell like he had NO CLUE that Manny Ramirez was just sitting out there. CASH FAIL! JUST USE THE CHECKBOOK CASHMAN!

    *sarcasm tag added purely because I slept like 2 hours total and I don’t have the energy to maybe have to explain myself.

  • Jacob

    Nice pickup. Maxwell hit one of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen in person back in ’09 vs. the Mets. He came on to pinch hit in the 9th inning of a blowout game and crushed a ball (that I was sure was going to be a HR) off the wall in left-center at Citi Field that seems like it is 450 ft from home plate. The ball was hit so hard that I remember looking at the scoreboard and going, “Justin Maxwell? Who the hell is that?”


    My sister is friends with Justin Maxwell and actually went to the same high school they had all the same friends and hung out often. This is really cool I hope he works out well with the Yankees!

    • jsbrendog

      So do i good luck to him.


    You no my sister was working out in our local gym last year and she is working out on some kind of exercise bike when she notices across the room a face that looked all so familiar but she could not remember who he was. After work outs were done it hit her who this guy is so she went up to him and asked are you “JUSTIN MAXWELL” He said yes and they talked and reminisced for a few minutes and went there separate ways. The funny thing is when my sister was talking to him at the gym she had no idea he was an MLB player and she noticed when they were talking he seemed a little apprehensive like he was worried she would say something but at the time she did not no what to make of it. About a week later I was watching a Nat’s game because the Yankees had an off day when all of a sudden Justin strolled to the plate and they announced his name, that’s when my sister rushed into the room and was all exited finding out for the first time that her good friend Justin Maxwell was indeed an MLB player and played for the nationals. After my sister calmed down a bit she told me about her encounter a week earlier and it was then clear to her what he was worried she would ask, he did not want her to say hay do you play for the Nat’s can you get my entire family front row seats to a ball game. He must have been relieved that my sister has no interest in base ball and did not even bring baseball up at all. Sorry if I bored any of you but I thought it was an interesting story and as the saying goes its a small world.