Scouting The Waiver Market: Adrian Cardenas

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Mailbag: Hughes, Dunn, Lee(s), 2014, Scouts
(Photo via The Sacramento Bee)

Aside from a designated hitter and an Eric Chavez replacement, the Yankees don’t have much left to address this offseason. Pursuing depth is a year-round thing though, and a player who could potentially upgrade the 40-man roster hit the market on Thursday, when the Athletics designated Adrian Cardenas for assignment to make way for Jonny Gomes. A former supplemental first round pick (37th overall in 2006), Oakland acquired him from the Phillies as part of the Joe Blanton trade a few years ago.

There’s nothing flashy about Cardenas, but Baseball America did rank him as the team’s 12th best prospect in their 2012 Prospect Handbook (that was before the Gio Gonzalez trade, however). As a middle infielder, all he has to do to represent an upgrade for the Yankees is be better than Ramiro Pena. That’s not exactly a high standard. Let’s break his game down…

The Pros

  • Offensively, Baseball America says he “makes consistent hard contact” and “has an innate understanding of how pitchers are trying to attack him … Cardenas has a fluid, effortless swing, and sprays the ball all over the field.”
  • The stats back up the scouting report. Cardenas has a career 12.6% strikeout rate (11.5% in Triple-A) and 9.3% walk rate (8.2% in Triple-A), both of which are above-average. He’s a .303 hitter in the minors (.290 at Triple-A) with a .368 OBP (.349 at Triple-A).
  • A second baseman by trade, Cardenas also has plenty of experience at shortstop and third base. He also spent a fair amount of time in left field last season. Versatility is always a plus.
  • Since he was added to the 40-man roster after the 2010 season and spent all of last year in the minors, Cardenas has two minor league options remaining. He has never spent a day in the big leagues, so he has zero service time and is under team control for another six years.

The Cons

  • Cardenas as no power whatsoever. I’m talking a career .110 ISO in the minors and .097 in Triple-A. The five homers he hit in 2011 were his most since hitting five in 2008. His career high is nine dingers back in 2007.
  • He’s also a poor base stealer, going just 27-for-48 (56.3%) in 392 games above Single-A. So offensively, the only thing you can count on Cardenas to do is put the ball in play and draw walks. I can’t even guarantee he’ll hit it out of the infield.
  • Unfortunately, all that defensive versatility just means Cardenas will be shaky at more than one position. Baseball America said his “speed, quickness, and range are all fringy,” and his outfield routes “aren’t perfect [but] he catches what he gets to and has an average arm.” They project him as a “line drive hitting utility man.”

A top 100 prospect as recently as 2009 (ranked 74th), Cardenas spent all of 2011 at Triple-A after splitting both 2009 and 2010 between Double and Triple-A. He seems to have gone backwards a bit since the trade, playing fewer and fewer games on the middle infield each season. A powerless corner infielder/outfielder without at least solid base stealing or defensive skills isn’t exactly the most valuable player in the world, so it’s not clear if he passes the “better than Ramiro” test. At least Pena is a very good defender at all infield positions, even if he can’t hit a lick and only has one minor league option remaining

Cardenas is worth having in the organization because he has some prospect shine left and is an upgrade over the Reegie Corona and Doug Bernier types, but I don’t think he’s a guy worth carrying on the 40-man roster if it can be avoided. That makes him a candidate for my favorite underutilized trick, the ol’ waiver claim-then-DFA. The idea is that you claim the player to get him in the organization, then immediately remove him from the 40-man roster. Since the Yankees have such a low waiver priority, any player they claim will likely go untouched the second time through waivers. That make sense? Cardenas could be useful but he’s not as good as I thought he was coming into this post.

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MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects List
Mailbag: Hughes, Dunn, Lee(s), 2014, Scouts
  • Thomas Cassidy

    He will be claimed before the Yankees can put their claim in. Kevin Whelan for him. I’m surprised Whelan hasn’t been given a real shot, he has good numbers.

  • Always Sunny in CP

    whoa, blast from past. I remember getting my first Baseball America book and he was the high school player of the year featured in the book. Kind of sad what he’s become at this point.

    • William

      Yeah, you look back at previous prospect handbooks and most of the top prospects never pan out. It’s pretty sad, really.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Well……he’s got a better baseball name than Pena, Corona, and Bernier.

  • BK2ATL

    Cashman should put a claim in, just in case. IF he falls to us, certainly could work in well as a Ramiro Pena replacement.

    Kid sounds like a OBP machine, which begs the Moneyball question to Oakland. Porque?

    • CJ

      Claim him. Then cut Ramiro Pena

      • BK2ATL

        IF he gets to us, yeah. Definitely something to think about.

  • CMP

    It takes a special kind of suckitude to fail the “are you better than Ramiro Pena” test.

  • Howard Cosell

    The Wild Card for the DH – the 150-1 odds guy is

    Brandon Laird 16 69 .260

    comparable stat wise to

    Jesus Montero 18 67 .288

    http://www.milb.com/milb/stats.....pid=477186

    HC

    • Dave

      Laird was awful against righties last year. 1000-1.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Laird sucks. Not good enough to play on our team.

    • Ted Nelson

      I would argue you are looking at the wrong stats.

  • BigBlueAL

    I umpired several games he played in when he was 13-14 yo at my local park down here in Miami. Best little league player I have ever seen at that age and Ive seen a boatload of kids in the past 15 or so years (including Gio Gonzalez).

    Always liked him because despite being 1000X better than every other player on the field he didnt act cocky which believe me is very rare at that age lol. Hope he finds a good landing spot and eventually make the major leagues.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Gritty. Downright Pedroian-sounding.

  • Dave

    Why pick him up on waivers at all if you’re just going to DFA him? You can just pick him up as a minor league FA if he clears. If one of the teams after you wanted him, they’ll still pick him up when you DFA him anyway.

    • Leroy Gates

      WOW, what insight!

  • Steve (different one)

    Aka “the Laffey”

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    Ramiro Pena is the only person I hate to see take the field more than AJ Burnett.

  • viridiana

    If memory serves, Manny was ranked #13 in BA’s mid-season update last year. So not really a jump here.

  • Vincenzo

    Could we trade Banuelos for Sano? How sweet would that be.

    I really want another young hitter now that Monteros gone.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      You’ll have some in a couple of years without trading Banuelos.

  • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

    How do you ALREADY have the 2012 BA Prospect Handbook?? That shit isn’t supposed to be released until Feb. 21.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Pre-order online. Got it Weds.

      • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

        WTF? I pre-ordered mine too. Did you order it through BA? I got mine through Amazon. I wonder if that could be the issue.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Yep, ordered right through BA.

          • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

            Interesting. I guess next year I’ll have to decide if I wanna save ~$15 or not be left out of the loop for ~3 weeks.

  • Ted Nelson

    Definitely intriguing as another name to throw in the CoJo, Mustelier, Adams, Laird, Pena pile… but that pile is also why I wonder whether Cardenas would sign with the Yankees vs. a team with a more pressing need for IF in MLB and the high minors.

  • john c

    The Yankees are midway through the waiver claim. Then the National League gets a shot at him. So, to say he would go unclaimed in a second waiver is wrong. All 29 remaining teams get a 2nd bite at the apple While the NL would see him for the first time if he were to get by the AL.