The Don’t Needs


(Jim Rogash/Getty)

The Yankees have a pretty long shopping list this offseason, a shopping list topped by an outfielder, a catcher, and a starting pitcher or two. There are other needs as well, but those three are by far the most pressing.

There are also things the Yankees don’t need this offseason, but as fans we like to rummage through the hot stove scraps for interesting names and potential bargains. We often come up with solutions for problems the team doesn’t even have. It’s part of the fun of the hot stove season. Barring something unforeseen like a trade or an offseason injury, here are three roster items the Yankees won’t spend much (if any) time addressing this winter.

Left-Handed Reliever
An awful lot of money was wasted on Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte these last few years, yet in 2012 the Yankees paid the duo of Boone Logan and Clay Rapada less than $2.5M for rock solid left-on-left relief work. Logan held same-side hitters to a .289 wOBA (31.6 K%) this year while Rapada was even better, holding them to a .238 wOBA (28.7 K%). Both are under team control next season and are expected to pull down less than $3.5M combined.

Furthermore, the Yankees claimed left-hander Josh Spence yesterday and also intend to give 2011 Rule 5 Draft pick and fellow lefty Cesar Cabral another look in Spring Training after he missed all of this season with a fractured elbow. Triple-A southpaw Juan Cedeno held lefties to a .303 wOBA (27.8 K%) this year and has already signed a minor league contract to return to the organization next year. The Yankees have two good lefty relievers at the big league level as well as solid depth in Triple-A, so a LOOGY doesn’t figure to be a priority this winter at all.

(J. Meric/Getty)

Backup Catcher
The Yankees are said to have interest in David Ross, the game’s best backup backstop, but they already have plenty of options for the position. Chris Stewart held the job down last year and Frankie Cervelli the two years before that, plus Austin Romine will be just a phone call away in Triple-A. The Yankees also claimed Eli Whiteside off waivers yesterday for even more backup catcher depth. Ross is an upgrade over all four of them and someone New York should pursue if the price is reasonable, but a backup catcher is hardly a pressing issue this offseason. A starting catcher is the focal point.

Pure DH
We all laughed earlier this year when the Yankees said one of the reasons they signed Raul Ibanez over Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui was his defense, but it turned out they were correct. All three are terrible outfielders, but Ibanez was the most equipped to play the position everyday. That came in handy when Brett Gardner went down with his elbow injury two weeks into the season.

Given their DH rotation system, expect the Yankees to pursue a similar player this offseason. It could be another outfielder or maybe even a first baseman since Nick Swisher isn’t coming back, which rules out players like Jim Thome and Travis Hafner. They offer the left-handed power and patience the Yankees crave, but they also haven’t played a position even semi-regular in years. Every little sliver of value you can squeeze from a player is important these days, especially in the ultra-competitive AL East, even if that value is playing a DH in the field once or twice a week to rest other players.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Cris Pengiucci

    “which rules out players like Jim Thome…”

    While I know he wouldn’t be a regular in the field, is Jim Thome really unusable as a backup 1B at this point in his career? I understand the point (and agree with) not having a regular DH, but a backup 1B of some kind does need to be addressed. One of the things that made Swisher a bit more valuable, in my mind.

    • MannyGeee

      Jim Thome is a back up 1B like Johnny Damon was/is a 4OF. Sure, he can fake it but…. yikes. You dont want to see how that plays out if (when) Tex gets hurt for more than a week.

    • jjyank

      I’m sure he can fake it a bit, but a back up 1B isn’t really what the Yanks need either.

    • Ted Nelson

      No idea where Thome’s at defensively these days, but I don’t think a back-up 1B is much of a concern. It’s arguably the easiest defensive position to fill. In all likelihood one or more of your back-up IF/cOF/C can play the position. Chavez or McGehee could have filled in last season. Someone like Nix or Cervelli might be able to play a few games there as well. And finding AAAA 1B for injury depth is pretty easy as well. They Yankees have had Miranda, Vazquez, Pearce, and Branyan a phone call (and roster move for all but Miranda and Pearce the second time) away. Heck, Nunez is listed at 6 feet and wouldn’t have the throw the ball much from 1B. Don’t know if he could get the footwork and bunt coverage down, but maybe.

      Those bench and AAAA guys might not be ideal solutions if Tex goes down for an extended period, but they should be adequate depth.

      • MannyGeee

        ” It’s arguably the easiest defensive position to fill.”

        Yeah, go ask Gary Sheffield.

        • Ted Nelson

          What position is easier to fill defensively?

    • Preston

      I’m not sure if Thome or Hafner could play a passable first base. But I’d still like to have either of them. It still leaves us with four bench spots which is plenty.

  • MannyGeee

    i am sorry to say it, but the true answer to the DH role is Victor Martinez. play 1B once in a while, play C (albeit poorly) once a week, DH a few times.

    now excuse me while I go punch myself repeatedly in the nuts.

    • jjyank

      I’d be interesting in kicking those tires, sure.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Yeah, worth looking into. With $12.5 AAV on his contract for the next 2 years, gotta find a way to use him regularly. Depends on what Detroit wants for him. He does seem to be a piece they won’t necessarily need, though. Depends how they plan to fill their DH role.

        • MannyGeee

          He is the kind of guy though that CAN be used at C/1B/DH just about every day. More “useful” (using that term loosely, as he’s not much of a catcher)

          • Cris Pengiucci

            By “them” I was refering to Detroit, so yes, I agree with your position.

            • MannyGeee


        • Leo

          Yeah, I don’t see why Detroit would want to move him. They are built to win in the next 3 years, so having VMart around for 2013 and 2014 at $13MM and $12MM makes sense. They wouldn’t want a couple prospects that might help them down the line.

          • MannyGeee

            Not that they “would”, just saying that he’s the type of target they could be looking for. Can hit, can fake multiple positions of need defensively…

            How many other players in the league meet that criteria?

            • Leo

              Mike Napoli is a Free Agent. His 177 wRC+ in 2011 is almost certainly not his true talent level. Probably lies more in the 110 to 120 range. He hits for power (career .248 ISO), can play C and 1B. Definitely worth looking into for the Yanks.

  • Eddard

    The country was decisive last night in what it didn’t need and now the Yankees need to follow suit. You are exactly right, Mike. We’ve got our LOOGYs. We’ve got enough old and slow DH types. No need for any more. Backup catcher plays 1/5th of the games and is largely irrelevant. What we need is to re-sign Hiroki, Andy, Mo, Ichiro and Raul. That will give us a good start and then we can fill in the rest of the holes.

    • Get Phelps Up

      “We’ve got enough old and slow DH types…What we need is to re-sign Hiroki, Andy, Mo, Ichiro and Raul

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Thanks for writing that. I’ve sworn off responding directly to Eddard’s posts and this immediately came to mind when I read it.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          And he coninuously fails to recognize that signing Hiroki & Andy is out of their hands at this point. Until they decide they’ll return to play in NY, the Yankees can’t do anything about them. Should they decide to play in NY again next season, I’m reasonably sure the Yankees will not have a major problem finding appropriate salaries for them.

      • MannyGeee


        Raul is hella fast there, I think it might be the lack of oxygen/gravity in #EddardWorld.

    • 0-Fur is Murder

      No politics… YOu’re saying you don’t want Raul Ibanez type palyers but you want Raul Ibanez… M’kay

      I’ll have a double of what he’s having!

      • jjyank

        Hit me, EddardWolrd Barkeep.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Wonder where Eddard lives. Maybe they passed “legalize marijuana” legislation there … :-)

        • jjyank

          Na, Eddard’s posts would be more like “yeahhh dude..HIROK N ROLL baby, bring back mah boy Andy brahh”

          I think something harder is at play here.

  • Ted Nelson

    I think all three are fair “don’t needs.”

    I don’t think they are talking about Ross as a BUC. I think they’re looking at him as an alternative to Martin. Whether that’s genuine or a negotiating ploy, I have no idea.

    Would take a real bargain pure-DH, but I do think there’s a chance. There also aren’t all that many guys like Thome or Hafner who can hit but can’t even fake a position or two… and even those guys both have major durability concerns. A lot of guys like Damon or Matsui can’t hit or field anymore. I can’t think of many other DH candidates who can hit a ton but can’t at least stand at a position without totally embarrassing themselves (some would say Nunez, maybe… though even as a fan of his I’m wouldn’t say he meets the hit requirement).

    • Preston

      I really like the idea of either Thome or Hafner in pin-stripes. Although I understand the need for roster flexibility I think that some tougher roster choices for Cashman and Girardi is a small price to pay for that kind of LH production from the DH spot.

  • CANOlli

    Bring back JoseMO!

  • Mike Cutler

    Victor Martinez for Gardner, Phelps and bec!ntance

    • Preston

      I would not trade Phelps or Gardner for V Mart, and honestly Betances value is so low, I’d rather just hang on to him and pray for a miracle because we’re getting nothing useful in return.

  • cranky

    Victor Martinez would be an awesome acquisition.
    But I can’t see that happening.
    Phelps, Gardner, and Betances?
    None of those three guys is likely to be as valuable to the Tigers over the next
    two seasons as Martinez will be. So what’s their motivation?