The Orioles designated 27-year-old utility man Russ Canzler for assignment yesterday, meaning he should hit the waiver wire relatively soon. Probably within a day or two. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Indians over the winter only to lose him to Baltimore when they signed Travis Hafner. At this point a reunion makes sense for New York.
Canzler, 27, is a career .271/.304/.396 (91 wRC+) hitter in 102 big league plate appearances, which isn’t enough to tell us anything. He has hit .276/.369/.430 (119 wRC+) in 374 Triple-A plate appearances this year, including a .415/.531/.815 (!) line in 82 plate appearances against southpaws. The right-handed hitter has hit .321/.404/.559 against southpaws at the Triple-A level over the last three years. That platoon aspect is the key for the Yankees given their overall inability to hit lefties.
Since he can play both first base and left field — and fill in at third in a pinch — Canzler would give the Yankees someone to platoon with Lyle Overbay at first while providing outfield depth whenever Vernon Wells fills in at DH. There’s no point carrying both Luis Cruz and Alberto Gonzalez on the bench with Eduardo Nunez back, so Canzler would fill a need on the bench. If the Yankees can grab him off waivers (again) or after he elects free agency, they should definitely pull the trigger. Canzler fits even if he is just okay against big league lefties.