Next Up: Eric Chavez


Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees are now turning their attention to Eric Chavez after failing to sign Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Nationals, Rays, and Padres also have interest in the corner infielder. If he wants to win, he’ll sign with the Yankees or Rays. If he wants to be close to home, he’ll sign with San Diego.

Chavez was decent for the Yankees in 2011, especially before a 5-for-29 finish the season uglified his batting line. He played surprisingly strong defense at third (not so much at first), had a few big hits, and of course got hurt. Hopefully he’s willing to take a minor league deal with a similar salary as last year ($1.5M), because anything more is probably pushing it. If he takes that and makes the team, his inevitable injury will give Brandon Laird a chance, so hooray for that.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • Plank

    Why would he take a minor league deal? I bet he’ll get major league offers.

    • MattG

      More over, why offer him a minor league deal? They seem to know he would be one of the twenty-five. Is it just to delay a decision on Whelan?

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        I’d give him a major-league deal. If you’re that worried about Eric Chavez remaining healthy that you wouldn’t give him a 25-man spot, look elsewhere.

  • Mike Myers

    Laird will get plenty of time even if they sign Chavez. Chances of AROD and Chaves being hurt are 100.1%

    • Plank

      I don’t think Laird has shown anything that indicates he should be given playing time. Does anyone think he’s more than a AAAA player, which is the spot he seems to be filling last year and this year?

      He’s a useful piece, but if he doesn’t see any time in the majors, I would take that as a sign that things went right (no injuries) than that they went wrong.

      • Mike Myers

        Right, thats why the yanks want him as the third in line 3B. Issue is, the first two are injury prone.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        I wouldn’t go that far but, if the team thinks he’s anything beyond a part-timer, he makes for better trade bait. For better or worse, 3B’s taken for a while.

        • Plank

          Laird would only be good trade bait if other teams valued him that way.

          My point was just that Laird’s playing time shouldn’t factor into any roster decisions the Yankees make – unless it is the SWB Yankees.

          • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

            Agreed on the last sentence.

      • RetroRob

        I’m not quite sure we can even say that Laird is AAAA player, since that would indicate a player who has mashed AAA(which he has not), and has shown consistent failure on the MLB level, which he has not.

        His AAA season was not great, but after a slow start he was solid the second half. He is young, helathy and has legit power, three things that Chavez is not. Because of his back issues and injuries, Chavez can not drive the ball consistently as he did when he was younger, shown by his .350 SLG last year. He’s not even particuarly great at getting on base, with a .320 OBP last year. After he returned from his injury, he triple-slashed along at .252/.294/.339, and shows a .296 OBP in limited action since 2007. Many Yankees fans fell good about Chavez because he hit well with runners in scoring position and two outs and in high leverage situations, yet that is not a repeatable skill.

        So point is not that Laird is all that great, but it’s Chavez is not all that good. Laird will probably get on base a little less than Chavez, but he was also hit for more power, and overall will probably have a stonger OPS.

        If Chavez is going to cost 1.5-2M, the Yankees might as well save that money and pay Laird minimum wage. I’m okay with Chavez returning, but I can certainly see where it would make sense to give those ABs to Laird, who probably could hit .240 with 20/25s if he played reguarly. He won’t get those ABs, but there’s enough talent there.

        • OldYanksFan

          One thing to consider…
          Anytime the Yanks trade a player who becomes decent (or better), people piss and moan. But the only reason said player did get better, is because someone gave him a chance to play and work out the kinks.

          It’s easy to develop a can’t miss prospect when they rise above ‘AAAA’ when they first come up…. but most don’t. If you don’t produce FAST in NY, you don’t last.

          Bernie averaged a .730ish OPS over his first 3 years. Not bad, but certainly not in the Mantle/Murcer image. My guess is if Bernie came up in 1996, he would have been traded.

          I’m not saying Laird is anything special, but we simply can’t know what his potential is, unless we let him play regularly for a few years. Unfortunately, the WIN NOW Yankees usually don’t allow that luxury.

          So if the alternative (Chavy) is not much better, why not give Laird a shot? There are many, many solid MLB players who were not that impressive in the minors or their first year or 2 of MLB play.

          Again, this isn’t about Laird, but about the Yankees in general. If we truly want to develop of our players and get off the ‘overpaying FA’s’ merry-go-round, we might need to be a bit more patient with our kids.

          • MannyGeee

            Gardner, Melky & cano are three examples of guys who came up and took some time to become successful… Great point

          • RetroRob

            Agreed, and that was my point. If Chavez isn’t all that much better than Laird, then they might as well give Laird a shot.

            I do think there is more willingness to give younger players a shot on the Yankees now than there was years back. Phil Hughes never would have survived this far. Joba would have been traded to another team, not even given a bullpen spot, after his 2009 season. Brett Gardner never would have been recognized for what he did deliver, instead the organization would focus on his lack of power, or what he wasn’t delivering compared to what they believed a LFer should deliver. It’s good that’s changing, because with the new CBA, it’s going to be more important than ever that the Yankees continue to mix in their young talent.

            And I agree. If Bernie Williams came up in the mid-90s as opposed to the early 90s, he would have been traded. I can also only imagine how certain fans here at RAB would have been all of him.

            • Plank

              But Chavez is better than Laird. Why would they put an inferior player on the field if they don’t need to?

              • Plank

                If he mashes in AAA, then re-evaluate the situation, but right now, what’s the advantage?

              • RetroRob

                …because I’m not that all convinced he is better, and Laird provides higher upside and will cost less, the last point being unimportant to me, but it does seem to be factoring into the Yankees thinking these days.

                Anyway, I’ve written way too many words on something I’m not all that passionate about. I’m okay if Chavez comes back, but I also fine with Laird getting the spot, and if forced to pick between the two, I’ll take Laird.

        • Plank

          I was using AAAA to mean a player shifting in between AAA and the majors. I agree, he hasn’t set AAA ablaze, which was my point. He’s useful as the guy getting shuffled back and forth as needed, but not as a full time bench guy.

          • RetroRob

            I get it. I don’t think our positions are too far off. I’m just not as high on Chavez as others, which makes me okay if Laird gets more playing time at third, and gets more ABs at third compared to Nunez.

            From a talent development point of view, if the Yankees think another full year at AAA will help Laird, I can live with that. Overall, though, I think the Yankees are too tame on promoting their younger players. Laird is 24 and had already a full year in AAA. It should be okay for that type of player to be on the Yankees in 2012.

            Eventually, the Yankees are going to have to do something with Laird and Phelps and Warren and Mitchell and, of course, Noesi, because right behind them they have Banuelos and Betances. Start working them in, or package them and trade them. They are all in the 24 or so age range and have a full year at AAA. There comes a point their value and develpment will regress.

  • RetroRob

    Chavez was fine and I don’t have an issue if he’s on the team again, but I would rather they give the job to Laird.

  • mustang

    “Hopefully he’s willing to take a minor league deal’

    If they offer him that he is gone and its a little insulting if you ask me. Maybe the same money, but definitely a major-league deal I think he earn that much.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Who is the better lefty hitter at this point? Chavez or Posada? Curious what folks think without regard to salary or defense.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Based on last year’s numbers against RHP, Posada has the advantage. Of course, that’s in a vacuum. Still need viable backups for the likely scenario where both Jeter and ARod need replacements in the field at the same time, due to whatever reason.

    • RetroRob

      As I noted above, Chavez really can’t drive the ball anymore.

      Posada is by far the better hitter from the left side. Not even close. Posada, however, can’t play third!

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      Why don’t you just marry Posada?


      • MannyGeee

        +1 for bitin Pee Wee Herman….

  • John Ya Ya

    I think he absolutely gets a major league deal. It doesn’t have to be for that much, as he’s nothing more than a good option off the bench, but he’s still shown he can play. I think the minor league deal would only come into play if he missed an entire season or so.

  • Bronx Byte

    Competition is healthy. (If) Chavez is willing to accept a minor league deal, let him and Laird battle it out in spring training for a spot on the roster.

    • Plank

      Deciding roster spots based on spring training results doesn’t seem like the best way to construct a club.

  • Total Dominication

    Not that such a thing is necessarily bad, but is this one of the least changed 25 man rosters in recent years? I certainly don’t remember having the exact same rotation going into the year, the exact same top end of the bullpen, and the exact same position players. Only change is Montero for posada. even the bench may turn out the same. Kinda cool.

  • RkyMtnYank

    If Arod and Chavez go down won’t Nunez be the first option instead of Laird like last year? I think I’d prefer Nunez.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Can’t Martin play some 3rd base?

    • Plank

      In a ‘Nick Swisher can pitch in relief’ kind of way.

      • MannyGeee

        Or in a Derek Jeter won’t give you herpes sorta way…

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Low blow! (or maybe that’s how he got it)