Out of options market offers Yankees little help

(Ed Zurga/Getty)

(Ed Zurga/Getty)

The Yankees have lost more than their fair share of players to injury this spring, most notably losing Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Curtis Granderson (forearm) for the first month of the season. Lesser injuries to Clay Rapada (shoulder) and Boone Logan (elbow) threaten the Opening Day bullpen. The Bombers have the depth to replace the two left-handed relievers if need be, but replacing the first baseman and center fielder will be impossible.

“This ain’t good,” said Brian Cashman to Mark Feinsand following Teixeira’s injury. “We’ll just wait and see. What we have in our camp is what we’ll continue to evaluate, and we have at our disposal potential casualties from other camps … It’s not the time of year to try to make any moves. Usually movement takes place after the draft unless people are trying to cut garbage.”

At this time of year, that “garbage” is typically players who are out of minor league options and can’t go to Triple-A without passing through waivers. A handful of these guys are traded in late-March every season as clubs finalize their roster and try to turn spare parts into something useful. Chris Stewart is a perfect example — he was out of options last year, so when the Giants didn’t have room for him on the roster, they made a small trade with the Yankees. Happens every single year.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, this spring’s crop of out of options players is rather unappealing. Lots and lots of fringy relievers, it seems. There isn’t much potential help in that garbage pile for Cashman, not even decent depth players for first and the outfield, nevermind a legitimate starting caliber position player. Here are three out of options guys who might help New York if they become available before the start of the season.

(Harry How/Getty)

(Harry How/Getty)

Daric Barton, Athletics
Barton, 27, was a sabermetric darling a few years ago, when he hit .273/.393/.405 (126 wRC+) with more walks (110) than strikeouts (102) in 686 plate appearances for the 2010 Athletics. He’s been hurt and ineffective since, putting up a .209/.329/.275 (75 wRC+) in 416 plate appearances from 2011-2012 while battling injuries to both shoulders — he had labrum surgery on the left shoulder in September 2011.

Oakland is set to go with the left-handed hitting Brandon Moss at first base — with various platoon partners — making the left-handed hitting Barton expendable. The Yankees have a similar hitter in Dan Johnson already in camp, except he will actually hit for some power in addition to drawing a ton of walks. Barton is a better defender at first, but he hasn’t been healthy and he hasn’t hit. I’m not sure he’s much of an upgrade over what New York already has in-house.

Casper Wells, Mariners
I think the 28-year-old Wells has gotten pretty overrated in recent weeks. The right-handed hitter owns a .264/.349/.489 (132 wRC+) line with a 10.2% walk rate against lefties in his career, but that has come in 313 plate appearances spread across three years. Those three small samples — career-high in plate appearances against a lefty is 151 last season — smashed together doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of what he can provide.

That said, Wells is better than most of what the Yankees have in camp. He is a (much) better defensive player than the established veterans like Juan Rivera, Ben Francisco, and Matt Diaz, and he has more of a big league track record than the youngsters like Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte. Since the Yankees will need a right-handed hitting outfielder even after Granderson returns, picking Wells up would be more than a one-month stopgap. The Mariners are overloaded with corner outfield and DH types, so he could become available. He’s useful, I just think he’s gotten a little overrated lately.

(Rich Pilling/Getty)

(Rich Pilling/Getty)

Chris Nelson, Rockies
Nelson, 27, hit .301/.352/.458 in 377 plate appearances last summer and .284/.327/.427 in 593 career plate appearances overall. Pretty solid right? Well, he’s a Rockie and when you adjust that stuff for Coors Field, you get a 105 and 90 wRC+, respectively. Not too hot all of a sudden.

Anyway, Nelson has a little bit of pop from the right side and can play the three non-first base infield positions in a pinch. He’s not a great defender but he is better than Eduardo Nunez, plus he offers a little more with the bat than Jayson Nix. The Yankees have talked about using Kevin Youkilis at first base and finding a new third baseman while Teixeira is out, though I wouldn’t recommend playing Nelson everyday. He could fit as a bench player though, representing a tiny little upgrade over what New York already has in-house. Given where they sit on the win curve and what they’ve lost due to injury, grabbing every little upgrade possible is a wise idea.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. John C says:

    Wells wouldn’t be a bad option at all. Much prefer him over Rivera and Diaz. Mesa has looked good at times but he will fall victim to the Cody Ransom syndrome of seeing nothing but breaking balls once the season starts. Also looks like Zolio needs some time in AAA before he is ready

  2. Eddard says:

    Once again these are just bandaids that aren’t worth trading top prospects to get. I’m sure someone will come in and say well technically they aren’t bandaids, so they’re at best gauze which still isn’t worth trading away our long term future. Nuney, Phelps and Nova should be off limits unless you’re getting a premium and young MLB ready talent in return.

    • jjyank says:

      This is getting hilarious.

    • Travis L. says:

      What “top prospect” do you think is getting traded for these guys? Eddard, you need to seriously think about what you type before you type it. I’m sure you are trying to sound like you know what you’re talking about, but you are failing. You just sound like a ranting lunatic who is trying to stir the pot. Long comment short….SHUT THE HELL UP!!

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      You’ve become a caricature of yourself.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Unless the new shtick is repeating himself over and over and getting everyone worked up over it. I guess I’d be that demoralized if my filibuster failed.

        Remember that we’ve made a guy who cut and pastes our comments and changes one word into a cult hero. Our amusement bar is not very high.

  3. jjyank says:

    I’d be interested in Wells for the right price. Not sure about Barton, and I’d pass on Nelson. Career .305 wOBA and 89 wRC+ away from Colorado. No thanks.

    • LK says:

      Nelson isn’t anything special, but in general a player’s road stats aren’t a good measure of his true talent level.

      • jjyank says:

        I agree with that in general, but I feel like Coors Field might be an exception to that.

        • LK says:

          I still think you’re better off simply looking at park-adjusted stats. Players tend to perform worse on the road (on a park-adjusted basis) regardless of what their home environment looks like. Throwing out half the data is almost never a good idea. Nelson doesn’t fair too well regardless though.

          • jjyank says:

            Yeah, but Mike already posted his overall numbers adjusted for park. I guess I’m just trying to reinforce the point.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          There’s actually an argument that Coors splits are exaggerated. That is, because balls don’t break as much at Coors, players get used to that and struggle more on the road than they would if they were playing their home games under more normal conditions. I believe that there’s some evidence of former Rockies generally outperforming their Rockies road splits.

  4. Unless we get Stanton or something comparable, we should not even be considering trading any of our top prospects.

    • Eddard says:

      You’re preaching to the Eddard choir here, Doc. No top prospect should be traded unless you’re getting a young, premium MLB talent in return. We already traded our top prospect last year and now they want to raid the farm system yet again. And not even for elite talent. These are middle of the road flashes in the pan.

      • jjyank says:

        Nobody is talking about trading a top anything here. Come on, Eddard.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          I’ve changed my mind, Eddard counts as the “Intentionally misread the article and make up random things no one is saying” troll right now.

      • Travis L. says:

        Wow. Eddard thinks everyone in the minors is a top prospect apparantly. Hilarious.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I should just hang it up, then?

          Addison Maruzscak

          • trr says:

            no love for Eddard here….

            as for me, I’d say everyone has a right to express their opinion, but sometimes some of the posts here are ill considered, probably due to people typing their gut reactions without thinking the entire thing through.

            Hell, I’ve done that myself, but so far everyone’s been tolerant of me…

            • Travis L. says:

              We can tolerate opinions if they make sense. Eddard brings out of this world craziness to the blog and it’s so constant that most people on here have become very tired of his routine. That’s the reason there isn’t any love for him here. His “schtick” gets old…quick.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      And nowhere in this post are we, so sit back and enjoy.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      These guys would probably take more fringe prospects to acquire. Maybe each team dealing from an area of strength to address an area of immediate need. Maybe some lottery ticket in the low minors that the other team is higher on than the Yankees are.

      They might even become available as free agents (at least Barton, and maybe some other guys not on this list).

  5. djyank says:

    hey axisa,
    i’d love a post about how posada was underappreciated & put up top-notch numbers so quietly for a decade. and now that we are even worse off than we were with martin, we’ll notice posadas absence this year and should pay tribute

    • pablos italianhero samwich says:

      hey axisa,
      i’d love a post about how posada was underappreciated & put up top-notch numbers so quietly for a decade. and now that we are even worse off than we were with martin, we’ll notice posadas abscess this year and should pay tribute indeed

  6. Nate says:

    What would it take to get Olt? Williams + Phelps?

    • Havok9120 says:

      And Slade. And something else. And possibly something on top of that.

      • LK says:

        You seriously Olt is worth 2 top prospects, an MLB-ready back of the rotation starter, AND something else?

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Disagree. I think it may take two top prospects, but not three players.

        I also would laugh Texas out of the country (hey, not a bad idea) for suggesting it. I’ll keep my guys who could just as easily flame out than trade two of mine for one of theirs, no matter if he’s closer to the bigs or not.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I doubt it. Olt is a good prospect, but not a prodigy or something. He was 23 in AA last season and isn’t a slam dunk to adjust to MLB pitching, especially with zero AAA PAs. And especially if moved to RF, where the offensive bar is much higher than 3B.

        BA has Williams 10 spots behind Olt on their list, while Mayo has him 19 spots. I don’t think that difference should be worth Phelps, let alone more than Phelps. Of course, if the Rangers view Olt as their starting RF (or 1B) the price to actually get him would be really high. If he’s just a depth piece going into this season they still have no reason to move him (especially with Cruz a FA next off-season), but a CF could actually have more long-term value to the team depending on how Martin does out there.

  7. Ally says:

    Another older player still available out there is Carlos Lee. He’s played left field and, more recently first base. Does not strike out much and is a good RBI guy.

  8. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I will raise my hand and admit to being a member of the “overrate Casper Wells” crowd. I don’t think he’s the next great Yankee or anything, but I think he’d fit the role we want him to play potentially better than the other veteran options in camp. If you have to bring two guys, and he costs you little more than a fungible MiLB piece, Wells wouldn’t be a bad guy to have, and he’s someone who could be a useful bench piece going forward.

    Don’t know much about Nelson, but those numbers don’t scare me too much. Again, if the price is right, he may be a better fit on the Yankees.

    Just say no to Daric Barton.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Agreed on Wells. I think that he is a good candidate regardless of who is injured. I’m interested to see if he becomes available and at what price.

  9. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Also lending to the case for Casper Wells is all the fun Sterling can, and will, have with his first name.

  10. Travis L. says:

    Since Cleveland is going with Raburn and Aviles as their bench guys (presumably), what does everyone think about Yan Gomes? He is a 3B/1B guy who could help out while Tex is on the mend.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      He was on Toronto briefly, right?

      • Travis L. says:

        Yeah, that guy. Didnt get many at-bats, but hit fairly well in the minors, I think. Cleveland got Gomes and another player from Toronto for Esmil Rogers.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          If he’s out of options (and is he), then I’d assume he’s worth a look.

          First Brazilian MLBer or something, right?

    • MannyGeee says:

      I wish Aviles was the odd man out there. I am a fan.

    • Bob Buttons says:

      Watched a couple of Jays games last year and Gomes looked feeble at the plate. Not sure if it’s just coincidence or if he’s like that all the time. Either way I wouldn’t give up anything tangible for him, nor a 25 man spot if he’s DFAed after ST.

  11. JCF says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Wells on the Yankees. He’s an upstate NY boy from Schenectady.

  12. trr says:

    Let’s face it, we going to start the season and play the first half pretty much with what we’ve got. Ain’t no miracle cures out there…

  13. The Rocket says:

    Olt would be perfect fit for Yanks, can play 1B,3B and some outfield. Would take at least 2 prospects for him. spoke with his father, he grew up a Yankee fan and they’re from the area. Would be tough to get him though since yankees are in a bind with all the injuries but he is major league ready and yanks could then trade Granderson when he comes back if they have no intention to re-sign him

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Trading multiple prospects for another prospect is just something I wouldn’t do. Wait a year on the guys you’ve got.

  14. Stan the Man says:

    Ultimately we are talking about spare parts here, bench guys to play a lot in April and then take on a specific role once Granderson and Tex are back. Why then can’t the Melky Mesa’s of the world from the Yankee farm system not fill this role? Does having a major league track record of being terrible, or injury prone, or a product of high altitude really something worth trading for?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m not saying Mesa can’t handle the role, and I think he’s going to get it. The team still has to take two extra OFs north for Opening Day, and the need for a fifth outfielder is always going to be there, and much less of a desired role for a younger player.

  15. OldYanksFan says:

    I few things on Nelson, from BREF.
    … Both last year and career-wise, he has a higher OPS against RHP.
    … He also plays 2nd base
    … He is a career 90 OPS+ (adjusted) hitter
    … Last year, he was a 102 OPS+ (adjusted) hitter

    That is better than Nix, and OK for a 2nd baseman.
    For a 3rd baseman, it ain’t huge.
    Can we get him for 2nd string farm fodder?

  16. Tonto Rinaldi says:

    I like Wells too. Upstate NY guy. Loves Yankee Stadium. He hit a few HR’s off of Petitte and CC last year. Great arm, power. Would probably be pumped up to play back in his home state. Do it , CAshman!

  17. Sweet Dick Willie says:

    He’s not a great defender but he is better than Eduardo Nunez,

    Well, that’s reassuring.

    Seriously, I’ve got to think that the defenders who are not better than Nunez would fit in a phone booth (remember those?).

  18. Jim P says:

    Use Mustelier as a 3B and an OF flipping Youkalis to 1B. The guy can hit.He can handle 3B for 2 months. If not get Adams on track and give him a shot.

  19. Manny Ramirez says:

    I am still available. Give me a contract so that I won’t need to play in China.

  20. Mattinglyfan03 says:

    What about the Pirates’ trio of out-options-outfielders? Garret Jones, Travis Snider and Jose Tabata? You don’t see any potential there?

  21. Jeff says:

    Inge for a bag of balls (non-Qualls variety)

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