Yanks “in serious talks” with UTIL Bill Hall

Would signing Zack Greinke next winter really be that bad?
Yankees interested in Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion

With their big winter moves in the books, the Yankees will now focus on filling out their roster. That leaves open the possibility of a trade; we know the Yankees prefer to trade for a DH rather than sign a free agent. Mostly, though, they’ll fill the roster by signing low-level free agents to minor league deals. It appears they could be close on the first such deal. This morning Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees are in “serious talks” with Bill Hall, who could fill a utility role for the team.

If the two sides do work out a deal, chances are high that it would be of the minor league variety. The Yankees currently have a full 40-man roster, and Hall isn’t the type of player for whom you sacrifice someone. With a number of 40-man spots opening up soon enough — 60-day DL stints for Joba and Feliciano, plus the potential returning of the two Rule 5 picks — a minor league deal could work out well for both sides. That also takes the pressure off the Yankees to carry Hall. Considering his recent past, he deserves no guarantees.

For two seasons Hall looked like a solid regular. He hit .280/.344/.525, a 119 wRC+, while playing a solid third base (in terms of defensive metrics). In those two years he led the Brewers in hitting numbers and WAR. Unfortunately, that was 2005 and 2006. In 2007 the Brewers moved Hall to the outfield so they could play Ryan Braun at third. Hall was a vocal opponent of the move, and his numbers reflected his attitude: .254/.315/.425. Yet as it turns out the decision to move him was wrongheaded. The Brewers moved Braun to the outfield in 2008 and started using Hall in a utility role. His numbers continued to decline from there.

Since his move from third base five years ago, Hall has produced exactly one above-average season at the plate. That came in 2010 for the Red Sox, where he hit .247/.316/.456 in 382 PA. He also filled many roles for them, playing all three outfield positions, including 48 innings in center field, second base, third base, and shortstop. He parlayed that into a one-year, $3 million deal with the Astros, which included a $4 million mutual option for 2012. But before even the halfway point the Astros had already released him due to his .224/.272/.340 line. The Giants then signed him, but after he hit .158/.220/.221 in 41 PA they, too, gave him the axe. He spent the remainder of the season in AAA.

At age 32, Hall could still have another useful season in him. He did show a decent amount of pop while with the Red Sox in 2010, and he actually hit for more power on the road than at home (so he wasn’t just a product of Fenway). In addition, the Yankees have long been interested in Hall’s services. They explored a trade for him in 2008, though at the time his contract made that a non-starter. Last winter the Yankees tried to sign him as well. Hall has worked with Kevin Long this winter, so presumably Brian Cashman is working with that input.

Signing, or not signing, Bill Hall will not make a huge difference this off-season. There is almost no chance of this being a major league deal, so it’s just like every other minor league deal. Every team brings a number of these players to camp every year. Having Hall makes sense, because he’s had some success in the recent past. It’s tough to ignore his 2011, but just a year before that he put up numbers befitting a good bench player. That’s all the Yanks can really ask out of a minor league signee.

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Would signing Zack Greinke next winter really be that bad?
Yankees interested in Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion
  • Thomas Cassidy

    So this means no more Nunez, probably. Eduardo Nunez, AJ Burnett, and David Phelps? Does that sound like a good package. Those two prospects could force a team to eat even more payroll on Burnett.

    Ship them for what in return? I like Drew Stubbs if he wasn’t a strikeout machine.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      No way does this spell the end of Nunez. If Hall makes the roster he’d have the Chavez role, with the benefit of being able to play the OF.

      • Thomas Cassidy

        I would rather see Nunez packaged with Burnett or some more prospects for an actual DH instead of the proposed Hafners of the world.

        I like Nunez, but he isn’t going to be a star. Shortstops who will probably top out at .280 with poor defense and little power are easy to come by.

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

          Isn’t Hafner an “actual DH?”

          • Thomas Cassidy

            A guy that can’t stay healthy isn’t an actual DH.

        • random

          If Nunez-types are so easy to come by, why would packaging him with Burnett land an “actual DH”?

    • Mike HC

      I agree with Joe that I don’t see Nunez going anywhere. Plus the fact he is a definite candidate to be our SS after Jeter.

      • https://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

        That’s terrifying.

        • Urban

          There’s a reason the Red Sox have had ten (made up #) shortstops since Nomar. We are a long way removed from the days of the “holy trinity,” when a SS like Miguel Tejada could hit 30 HRs and have trouble getting noticed, or a border borderline HOFer (he’s really not) like Omar Vizquel would mistaken for the ball boy.

  • FachoinaNYY

    I like it. I think everyone looking at his number from last season need to remember they came with terrible offensive teams. I see his numbers boucing back in a utility role.

  • James A

    There is no such thing as a bad minor league deal. The Yankee could sign Whitey Ford to minor league deal and it wouldn’t be a big deal, maybe he’d get a LOOGY spot. If Bill Hall looks good and plays like he did for Boston in 2010, he could be a valuable bench guy with pop, who can actually play short and third pretty well, and seems like a good character vet. If he plays like the 2011 Bill Hall, then he doesn’t make the team and theres no damage. Don’t see what’s wrong here, unless they trade Nunez because of Hall. Now that would be questionable

    • JAG

      Agreed. Without trading Nunez, the worst spot they could be in is what? Hall shows a lot in Spring Training and they have to decide whether to carry him on the team or not? Pretty good worst-case.

  • Guns of Navarone

    Sounds like a Cashman Crush. Cash wanted him last year and still has that itch. It also looks like he could’ve had a recommendation from Long much like Bartolo had one from Pena last year.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Randy Winn II

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Bartolo Colon II? (See Guns of Navarone’s comment above. That’s a definite possibility.)

  • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

    Hall could be this springs Belliard, who was eventually cut. He’s just someone to look at.

    BTW I haven’t heard Eric Chavez’s name mentioned in a while. He didn’t sign with another team or retire, did he?

  • Raza

    Does he pass the “is he better than Ramiro Pena” test?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      On a Minor League contract, who cares? Get a look at him and make the determination to keep him or not.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    The epitomy of “slow news day.”

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I was thinking the same thing …

      • Robinson Tilapia

        The bar for “Minor League Deal” is never a high one.

  • Evan3457

    Hall? Just say “no”.

  • MidlandTX

    Totally worth a look as a non-roster invitee.

  • http://riveraveblues austinmac

    Doesn’t every major leaguer who can find his bat beats Pena?

  • CJ

    Invitation to ST is fine. Same goes for Conor Jackson and Mark Teahen.
    It’s amazing that Rosenthal, Heyman, Sherman, et al. Can’t get anything on trade talks for DH.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      There’d be one good reason for that.

    • Urban

      Ninja at work. We won’t know the interesting news until it appears on our screens.

      • CJ

        Well the ninja can use some diversionary tactical leaked discussion like a ninja would use a smoke bomb. At least, this would give us something to talk about

        • MannyGeee

          Doesn’t ‘we’d prefer to trade for a DH’ qualify as non- news smoke bomb news?

  • CJ

    What a scoop Ken Rosenthal! Yanks are in “serious talks” with a .211 utility man on a minor league deal. If you insist on wearing a bow tie you’re going to have to do better than that!

    • CMP

      He should at least make up something interesting like Barry Bonds has been training in seclusion and may get a spring training invite from the Yankees.

      • Urban

        I would like that rumor.

        I would like him to actual shows up and swing the bat.

  • Raza

    I remember after his 2006 season, Peter Gammons predicted that Bill Hall would be the 2007 NL MVP in his pre-season predictions. #random.

    • CMP

      Gammons family should have encouraged him to hang it up after the stroke.

      • CMP

        With each passing year, he reminds me more and more of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons

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

      He picked Bobby Crosby to win AL MVP one year.

  • Joeshitheragman

    I had no problem with Chavez in the utility role last year. I know he gets hurt, but it was a pretty freaky accident on the base paths that kept him out. With his glove and bat and Yankee type positive clubhouse personality, I’d like to see him back in the pinstripes.

  • mike

    I remember Hall being a fiasco in the field when he was with Boston, as i was especially interested in him after hearing the “buzz” about him and seeing his numbers after the Yanks were rumored to be interested in him.

    i also remember his swing being long, where as a bench player that might not really be effective – although Jones last year seemed to compensate in his limited playing time.