Unless they make a move for a pitcher in the next month and change, the Yankees are pretty much done assembling their 2012 team. In terms of position players they’re pretty set. You can already pencil in the nine starters, and three of the four bench slots are already filled. That last bench spot is pretty much a toss-up. With Andruw Jones and Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees already have backups for every position. That last player can come from nearly anywhere, and can play nearly any role.
Hiroyuki Nakajima might have filled that spot, but he’s headed back to Japan for one more season. Eric Chavez seems like the frontrunner for it now, but his fragility works against him heavily, since part of his job would be subbing for the unreliable Alex Rodriguez. There are some other internal options, such as Justin Maxwell and Chris Dickerson, but the Yankees might want someone who plays the infield. Better yet, someone who can play the corners in both the infield and outfield. As it happens, someone who fits that description just became available.
The Blue Jays designated Mark Teahen for assignment this morning, after he came to the plate just 47 times for them. Really, Teahen had no part in the Jays’ plans; they only took on him, and his salary, to make the Edwin Jackson acquisition easier. With a full roster and nowhere to put Teahen, a DFA was almost inevitable. No one’s going to claim him and his $5.5 million salary, but the Yanks might have interest should he clear waivers and reach free agency. Here’s the breakdown.
- He’s versatile. While he has limited experience at first base and left field, he has plenty at third base and right field. That gives the Yankees a backup to A-Rod who can also sub in the outfield if need be.
- He’s left-handed. The three current bench players — Andruw Jones, Eduardo Nunez, and Francisco Cervelli — all hit right-handed. The Yankees also got a bit more right-handed in general by swapping Jesus Montero for Jorge Posada. They’d probably prefer a lefty for that last bench spot.
- He can take a walk: 8.2 percent career walk rate, and it’s been at or above 9 percent in each of the last two seasons.
- He’s relatively healthy. An oblique injury kept him out for a bit in 2011, but otherwise he’s been pretty healthy. His most significant injury has been a fractured middle finger, suffered in 2010, but that’s more of a freak thing. His shoulder, surgically repaired in 2006, hasn’t been an issue since.
- He’s not that good with the bat. After a very good 2006 season, at age 24, it appeared that Teahen — who was part of the A’s Moneyball draft — might be coming around. He’s been a complete disappointment, though, producing below average offensive numbers every year since. Last year was a low point: 52 wRC+.
- He plays terrible defense. While defensive metrics can portray players inaccurately, it’s tough to argue when they all agree. All major defensive stats rate him as a patently horrible third baseman, and a barely passable outfielder.
- He’s not even that good on the platoon split. He has a career .322 wOBA, .328 against righties. If he’s going to be a generally mediocre player, he might as well at least mash righties. Alas.
That cons list might contain only three items, but they’re three pretty damning ones. Teahen might be worth a sniff on a minor league deal, but his name value could fetch him a major league contract. The Jays might even trade him during the DFA period. If he’s not worth signing to a major league deal, he’s certainly not worth trading for living, breathing players.
In essence, Teahen’s value is mostly associated with his name recognition. If he were just some random John Smith with those numbers, he wouldn’t get a sniff — never mind the $5.5 million he’ll make this year. The Yanks might desire to add a left-handed bat to the bench, but Teahen shouldn’t be that guy. Even Eric Chavez, for defensive value if nothing else, would provide more value than Teahen.