Archive for Jayson Nix
Late last week the Yankees addressed the left-handed half of what will presumably be a DH platoon, signing Travis Hafner to a one-year contract worth $2M. Pronk’s power and on-base ability will be an upgrade over Raul Ibanez‘s offensive contributions last year as long as he stays on the field. That part is far from a given thanks to his extensive injury history.
Last season the Yankees employed — or attempted to employ before injuries an other factors interfered — an unorthodox DH platoon that consisted of playing Eduardo Nunez in the field against left-handers while either Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez served as the DH. I expect them to try a similar arrangement in 2013, but obviously the pieces will change. A-Rod is going to miss at least half the season due to his hip surgery, leaving Jeter and Kevin Youkilis as the infielders most of need of regular rest.
In addition to being 38-years-old, Jeter is coming off a major ankle injury that required surgery. He recently resumed baseball activities and right now it appears as though he’ll be ready in time for Opening Day. Even if he is healthy and ready to go when the season begins, I still expect Joe Girardi to give him regular turns at DH just to ease him back into things following the ankle fracture. Girardi is always conservative when it comes to injuries and it makes complete sense to take it easy on the Cap’n in April. Youkilis is no stranger to the DL and he will need his fair share of DH days, but hopefully not as many as Jeter early in the season.
The question about who replaces Jeter or Youkilis in the field on those DH days is unanswered. Despite the club’s insistence that he is most valuable at shortstop (duh), Brian Cashman recently said they would convert Nunez back into a utility infielder if he makes the team out of Spring Training. The other option is Jayson Nix, who did an admirable job off the bench last summer as the primary utility infielder following Eduardo’s defense-related demotion. David Adams and Corban Joseph could receive consideration for the job, but their inability to play shortstop works against them.
Jason Bartlett is pretty much the only notable infielder left on the free agent market who can legitimately play shortstop, so it sure looks like it will be Nix or Nunez subbing in against lefties while Jeter or Youkilis spends the day at DH. Nix, 30, is steady but unspectacular in the field and below-average but adequate at the plate. The 25-year-old Nunez offers much more exciting tools in his speed, contact ability, and arm strength, but he’s a big liability in the field. He has little trouble getting to balls and offers more range than Nix, but obviously he has major issues finishing the play. If the Yankees want reliability, they’ll take Nix. If they want some upside, they’ll take Nunez. There’s not much point in arguing strongly either way right now.
Assuming the Yankees carry a right-handed hitting outfielder on the bench to platoon with their various left-handed hitting outfielders, they have three bench spots left to fill. One will go to the backup catcher, so it’s really two spots. Given the weak catching tandem, I would really like to see the team carry a good left-handed bat on the bench so Girardi could pinch-hit liberally in the late-innings. Dan Johnson, who can play the corner infield spots in a pinch, could make sense for that role. It’s a job that Eric Chavez would have filled perfectly, but alas. Given how unlikely the team’s catchers (whoever they end up being) are to hit, I think having that dangerous lefty pinch-hitter is more of a necessity than a luxury.
If the Yankees do carry such a player, they’re left with one bench spot for a utility infielder. That guy will have to be able to play shortstop and play it fairly regularly, I’m thinking two or three times a week until Jeter settles in following the surgery. Not only that, but he has to be able to run for inevitable pinch-running situations. I think Nunez is a better bet to do that than Nix, but his defense stinks. At the same time, the more at-bats Nix receives, the more his production is likely to go down. He’s the type of guy who gets exposed with too much playing time. There is a scenario in which the Yankees could carry both on their bench at the start of the season, but they would be short-changing themselves elsewhere.
With Mark Reynolds joining the Indians, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Kevin Youkilis will sign with the Yankees to replace the injured Alex Rodriguez next season. The team offered the long-time Red Sox a one-year, $12M contract at the Winter Meetings last week and are still waiting for his answer, but the Reynolds signing figures to take the Terry Francona-led Indians off the board. Obviously it’s not a guarantee Youkilis with sign with New York, but right now things are pointing in that direction.
Just like the catcher position, the Yankees do not have a suitable in-house replacement at the hot corner. Unlike the catcher position, the Yankees are actively looking to acquire a player to man the position next year. Their internal solutions at third base are a little more promising than they are behind the plate, but it’s still an uninspiring group. Let’s review.
The most veteran of the team’s in-house options, the 30-year-old Nix put up a .243/.306/.384 (88 wRC+) line with the Yankees this year and is a career .214/.285/.371 (73 wRC+) hitter. One thing he does decently is hit lefties, including a .255/.318/.408 (97 wRC+) line this year and .239/.309/.428 (94 wRC+) for his career. Nix has proven to be very versatile, starting at least nine games at second, short, third, and left field in 2012. The Yankees recently signed him to a new one-year contract worth $900k, and convinced him to accept a minor league assignment. Nix cleared waivers a few days ago and remains with the organization, but not as a 40-man roster player.
Nunez, 25, is one of the more polarizing players in Yankeeland. The guy has a ton of tools, specifically offering the ability to get the bat on the ball (career 10.4 K% and 88.2% contact rate), speed (career 38-for-46 in stolen base attempts, 83% success rate), and both range and arm strength in the field. His only problem is the inability to put those defensive skills to good use, as Nunez has a knack for throwing the ball away and booting ground balls. It’s frustrating because the routine play gives him trouble, not the tough ones. Nunez is a career .272/.318/.384 (88 wRC+) hitter in 491 big league plate appearances (.292/.330/.393, 93 wRC+ in 2012) and probably is the most dynamic of the team’s in-house options given his speed. The Yankees, however, have kept him at shortstop exclusively since May in an effort to improve his defense. They’d have to scrap that plan to use him as an A-Rod replacement.
Unlike Nunez and Nix, the 25-year-old Adams has zero big league experience. In fact, he has zero Triple-A experience. The team’s third round pick in 2008 missed most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons with a brutal ankle injury, but returned this year to hit .306/.385/.450 (133 wRC+) in 383 Double-A plate appearances. A second baseman by trade, the Yankees shifted Adams to third base after A-Rod broke his hand in late-July. He continued to work on the position in the Arizona Fall League after the season. Adams is a contact-oriented right-handed hitter who has present gap power and will take a walk, and he’s always hit in the minors. Performance is not the issue. He lost a ton of development time due to the ankle injury and in fact, the team kept him on a four days on, one day off regimen this year. Making the jump from Double-A to the big leagues is tough but not impossible, though Adams would be doing it with only 50 or so career games at the hot corner under his belt.
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The crop of internal third base solutions is better than the internal catcher solutions, but these still aren’t guys you’d expect to find playing the hot corner everyday for a contending team. It’s easy to see why the Yankees would pursue someone like Youkilis, but let’s pretend for a moment that he’ll spurn the team to sign elsewhere.
Jayson Nix has cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A, the team announced. The Yankees signed him to a new one-year deal worth $900k last week, then immediately designated him for assignment. Nix agreed to accept the Triple-A assignment if he cleared waivers, so he remains with the organization but is no longer on the 40-man roster.
The Yankees just announced a series of roster moves, so let’s recap…
- Mariano Rivera passed his physical, so his one-year deal worth $10M guaranteed is official. He’ll receive $500k for ALCS MVP, $1M for World Series MVP, and $1M for the Rolaids Relief Award according to Ken Rosenthal.
- The Yankees claimed right-hander Jim Miller off waivers from the Athletics. The 30-year-old pitched to a 2.59 ERA (4.74 FIP) in 48.2 innings for Oakland last year. He owns a 2.42 ERA (4.42 FIP) with big strikeout (8.10 K/9 and 20.4 K%) and walk (5.12 BB/9 and 12.9 BB%) rates in 63.1 career big league innings. He’s a fastball-slider guy.
- Jayson Nix has been re-signed to a new one-year contact, avoiding arbitration. Chad Jennings says it’s a $900k deal, which is exactly what MLBTR projected.
- The Yankees designated both Nix and Mickey Storey for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Rivera and Miller. Nix agreed to accept the assignment to the minors if and when he clears waivers.
The Yankees have developed a knack for finding value on the scrap heap, consistently turning other team’s discards into useful pieces. It’s a wonderful skill for a front office to have regardless of payroll size. As expected, the Yankees dug up two useful veterans who wound up taking on bigger than expected roles this season.
One of the team’s very first moves last offseason was to sign the 30-year-old Nix to a minor league contract. He had some pop in his bat and was very versatile, with experience at all three non-first base infield spots as well as the outfield corners. Nix showed the team what he could do in Spring Training, but ultimately he was sent down to Triple-A to open the season.
A minor (and unknown) injury delayed the start of his minor league season by two weeks, but he was playing in Triple-A before long. When Eric Chavez dove for a ball and had to be placed on the 7-day concussion DL in early-May, the Yankees recalled Nix to take his spot on the roster. When Eduardo Nunez‘s defensive troubles became an unavoidable issue, he was sent down to Triple-A while Nix took over as the primary utility infielder.
All told, Nix hit .243/.306/.384 (88 wRC+) with four homers and six steals in 202 plate appearances for New York while starting at least nine games at second, third, short, and left field. He produced a 97 wRC+ against left-handers, a 142 wRC+ at Yankee Stadium, and a 163 wRC+ with men in scoring position. His defense was adequate at worst as well. Nix missed time with a hip flexor strain at the end of the season and played sparingly in the playoffs, but overall he was a rock solid bench piece for a team increasingly in need of quality bench help.
The Braves ate a whole bunch of money when they traded Lowe to the Indians last offseason, and before long it was easy to see why. The 39-year-old right-hander pitched to a 5.52 ERA (4.49 FIP) with Cleveland and was released in early-August. The Yankees pounced a few days later when CC Sabathia‘s elbow forced him to the DL and the pitching staff needed help, signing the former Red Sox through the end of the season.
Lowe agreed to pitch in relief and rewarded the team’s faith in him immediately. His first appearance in pinstripes was a four-inning save against Rangers in relief of David Phelps, who had replaced Sabathia in the rotation. Lowe appeared in several low-leverage situations but had worked his way up the bullpen totem pole by mid-September. Joe Girardi was using him regularly as a stabilizing force in the middle innings by the end of the regular season, effectively deploying him as a setup man to the setup men. He was 2009 Al Aceves-esque for a few weeks.
Lowe pitched to a 3.04 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 23.2 innings for the Yankees down the stretch, though he did get hit around in his three postseason appearances. Considering his dreadful performance with the Indians, it was easy to have very low expectations for Lowe. He instead proved his worth as a battle-tested and versatile veteran arm, adding depth to the bullpen down the stretch by essentially replacing Cory Wade as Girardi’s go-to middle reliever.
Via Ken Davidoff: The Yankees would like to find an upgrade over Jayson Nix this offseason, meaning someone who could play 100+ games between shortstop and third base next season. That won’t be easy at all.
Nix, 30, hit .243/.306/.384 (88 wRC+) in 202 plate appearances this season, including a 97 wRC+ against lefties. Maicer Izturis is off the market, and the only other free agents I see who fit the ball are Marco Scutaro and Jeff Keppinger. Scutaro is likely to get big bucks from the Giants and Keppinger has played a total of 125.2 innings at short in the last four years, including zero in the last two years. Hopefully the trade market is more bountiful.
Over at MLBTR, Matt Swartz published his projected salaries for this winter’s arbitration-eligible players. His model was accurate to within 10% for players who did not sign multi-year deals last year — including just a 5% error for the Yankees — and after a summer of tweaks and refinements, he could be even closer this year.
The Yankees have seven arbitration-eligible players to deal with this offseason — Chris Dickerson and Frankie Cervelli fell just short of qualifying — though Casey McGehee is a prime non-tender candidate. The biggest expected raise belongs to Phil Hughes, who should see his salary jump from $3.2M to $5.7M. David Robertson and Boone Logan figure to get ~$1M raises while Brett Gardner and Joba Chamberlain are in line for negligible pay increases following their injury-shortened years. Jayson Nix still projects to get a six-figure salary and could be non-tendered as well. Without McGehee, the six-man arbitration class will cost the Yankees approximately $16.7M. Not too bad at all.
Got five questions for you this week, and none of them are directly tied to the ALDS. Consider this a break from the playoffs for a few hours. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us questions.
Bill asks: If the Yanks were to buy out A-Rod‘s contract (not saying they should just if they did) would his salary still count towards the team salary for getting under the $189 million limit?
Yeah, it would. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, player salary that counts towards the luxury tax is “the value of the total compensation (cash or otherwise) paid to a Player pursuant to the terms of a Uniform Player’s Contract, including any guarantee by the Club of payments by third parties, for a particular championship season. Salary shall include, without limitation, the value of non-cash compensation such as the provision of personal translators, personal massage therapists, and airfare and tickets exceeding normal Club allotments.”
In English, that means anything a team plays a player will count towards the tax. The structure of the buyout would determine when and how much applies to the luxury tax calculations. There are five years and $114M left on A-Rod’s contract after this season and the Yankees are goimng to pay every penny. They’re not trading him, he’s not going to retire, and they’re not going to negotiate a buyout so they can cut him loose. It’s not happening. He’ll be around until 2017 whether you like it or not. Ownership made their bed and now they’ll have to sleep in it.
Nick asks: Do you think that Jayson Nix could wind up on the Yankees again next season?
I definitely think it’s possible. Nix, 30, will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and will probably still be in line for a six-figure salary next season. I have a hard time seeing a career up-and-down bench player with a .214/.285/.371 batting line pulling in more than a million bucks his first time through arbitration.
Nix is a useful role player capable of playing a ton of positions and providing some offense against left-handers, so it makes sense for the Yankees to hold onto him. He shouldn’t deter them from acquiring a better utility infielder if one comes along this offseason, the only problem is that he is out of minor league options and can’t be sent to the minors next season without clearing waivers. I wouldn’t call Nix a lock for the 2013 roster by any means, but there’s certainly a chance of it happening.
Well, the Sanchez stuff last season was so bad that the team had to send him to Extended Spring Training for disciplinary reasons. He refused to pinch-hit in a game and catch a side session, which is a major no-no. The Williams stuff was reported as “a few headaches,” which frankly is the first I’ve heard of him having any kind of real makeup problem. Mason has been knocked for being too hard on himself and getting frustrated with bad at-bats or plays, but nothing that created a problem with other players or coaches. We’ll have to pay attention to this in the future, because this report did catch me a bit off guard.
JW asks: Here’s a mailbag question: assume Rafael Soriano opts out and the Yankees make a qualifying offer. Under the new FA compensation rules, does it project that the signing team would have to give up a draft pick? I know that the number of players whose signing warrants giving up a pick has been reduced by a lot.
Under the new system, a team would have to forfeit a draft pick to sign a top free agent (who has received a qualifying offer), but that pick does not go to the player’s former team. It just disappears. The former team receives one supplemental first round pick instead, which is pulled out of thin air like the old system. I assume the Yankees will make Soriano a qualifying offer if he opts out because he’d be walking away from more money ($14M) by opting out than he would get through the offer ($13.3-13.4M). I have no idea who would give up a draft pick to sign him but it doesn’t really matter — the Yankees will end up with the same compensation pick no matter where he ends up.
GB asks: If Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Mark Teixeira, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were all FA’s after this season, what kind of contracts would you see them getting?
Well this is a fun one. I have an amazing knack for underestimating free agent contracts, but I’ll give this my best shot anyway…
- Granderson — 40+ homer power is rare, so that alone will get Curtis paid at age 31. Clubs will probably be gun-shy because of Jason Bay, but his four-year, $66M deal with the Mets seems like an appropriate benchmark.
- Sabathia — Despite the elbow injury and sub-par second half, Sabathia would still wind up with $20M+ a year easy. Frankly I bet he could match the five-year, $122.5M deal he signed with the Yankees last winter if he went back out onto the open market this year. Pitchers of Sabathia’s caliber very rarely hit free agency.
- Hughes — How does four years and $40M sound? Phil is only 27, so you’d theoretically be buying all of his peak years and expect some improvement going forward. Maybe $44-48M would be closer to reality as a free agent.
- Teixeira — At this point, age 32, Teixeira is just a touch above the first base league average offensively (115 vs. 106 wRC+) while remaining a stud with the glove. First baseman make more money than anyone, so I think another Bay-like four-year, $66M deal would be in the cards.
- Robertson — A stud reliever at age 27 is a prime candidate to get overpaid, especially if someone plans on making him a closer. Joaquin Benoit’s three-year, $16.5M deal with the Tigers seems like the floor here. Three or fours years at $6-7M annually wouldn’t surprise me at all.
- A-Rod: Not much right now, probably like two years and $20M with most of that coming on reputation.
- Jeter: The Cap’n is in a weird spot because I don’t think any other team would pursue him as a free agent. Not because he’s a bad player or anything, but because of the “Yankees or retirement” vibe. Could Jeter match the three-year, $51M contract he signed two years ago this offseason? Yeah, I think he might be able too.
Via Andrew Marchand, infielder Casey McGehee said he was informed that he will not be on the ALDS active roster. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman reports that utility man Jayson Nix took some at-bats against David Aardsma and Adam Warren in a simulated game today.
Nix has been out for a week with a strained left hip flexor, and the original report indicated that he would miss 10-14 days. The last bench spot on the ALDS roster appeared to be a decision between Andruw Jones and McGehee, but the versatile and right-handed hitting Nix would obviously get the call over both if he’s actually healthy enough to play.
Sunday: Nix will be out 10-14 days with a Grade I strain of the left hip flexor. Sounds like the only way we’ll see him again this year is if the Yankees manage to advance to the ALCS.
Saturday: Utility man Jayson Nix is heading back to New York for an MRI on his left hip flexor. No idea how long it’s been bothering him, but Eduardo Nunez will take over as the backup middle infielder by default. Casey McGehee and Eric Chavez will help out on the corners. If Nix will be out a while, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees recalled Corban Joseph, who is already on the 40-man roster, just to have the extra bench help the rest of the way.