Love Me Non-Tender

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The deadline to offer a contract to players with less than six years of service time was midnight last night, so a whole new batch of free agents hit the market as players were non-tendered. Most non-tenders are fringe roster players, but a few of them are actually worthwhile. The full list of non-tendered players is at MLBTR, and here are a few who could help the Yankees.

  • 1B/3B Mark Reynolds: The Yankees have a serious lack of right-handed power right now — it’s Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, that’s it — and Reynolds would definitely fill that void.  He could be an oft-used DH and third base backup while also filling in at first. Adding all those strikeouts to the lineup would stink, but I think it would be worth it for a guy on the right side of 30 who draws lots of walks (13.2 BB% last three years) and could hit 30+ dingers.
  • OF Nate Schierholtz: I’ve written about Schierholtz a few times already, so I’ll just refer you back to that. If the Bombers want a young and cheap platoon bat for right field, they’re not going to find a better one on the open market.
  • C Geovany Soto: Soto didn’t hit a lick this year (62 wRC+), but there’s at least some hope it’s BABIP-related (.222) and not irreversible erosion of his skills. He had a 95 wRC+ as recently as last season, though he is pretty poor defensively. With Russell Martin off to Pittsburgh, Soto may have the most upside (relatively speaking, of course) among free agent catchers.
  • 3B Ian Stewart: The 27-year-old Stewart has battled wrist injuries in recent years, but if the medicals check out he could be a serviceable Eric Chavez replacement on the bench. He’s shown nice power when healthy and would benefit quite a bit from Yankee Stadium‘s short right field porch. Risky though. Very risky.

Reynolds and Soto are worth more discussion and I’ll probably take a more in-depth look at them in the coming days. I know a lot of people will ask about Jair Jurrjens and John Lannan, but I wouldn’t touch either. Jurrjens has been trending in the wrong direction for a few years now and has also battled lots of injuries. Lannan is a soft-tossing lefty I wouldn’t trust in the AL East. If they want to take minor league contracts and are willing to sit in Triple-A as depth for a few months, sure. No guaranteed contracts though.

Mailbag: Gardner and the Nationals

Aaron asks: There’s been some talk in Bill Ladson’s latest mailbag that the Nationals could make a run at trying to acquire Brett Gardner. I don’t see the Yankees being interested in dealing him, but if they were, who could they look to acquire from Washington?

The Nationals have been looking for a long-term solution in the leadoff spot and in center field pretty much all season, which is why they were connected to guys like Denard Span and B.J. Upton at the trade deadline. Gardner fits both criteria and on paper he’s a perfect fit for Washington, but the question is do they have the pitching to get the Yankees interested?

Just to get this out of the way, we can forget all about Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. That’s not going to happen unless the Yankees really sweeten the pot. It would be a backwards move if the Yankees traded a starting center fielder with three years of team control left for a reliever or two, so forget about that as well. Their bullpen isn’t exactly a problem. Looking at Washington’s 40-man roster, there’s only two names that make any kind of sense for New York: John Lannan and Ross Detwiler.

Although both are reasonably the same age (Lannan just turned 27, Detwiler turns 26 in March) and are left-handed, the two are pretty different. Lannan is a classic ground ball/finesse southpaw, sitting right around 89 with his two- and four-seamers while mixing in a curve, a changeup, and a slider. His ground ball rates have consistently been above 51% (54.1% this year) and his strikeout rates have been consistently below 6.0 K/9 (5.2 this year) in his career. He’s good but not great at limiting walks (3.7 BB/9 this year, 3.4 career), and right-handers hit him hard both this year and last, though his career split is even.

Detwiler, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft, is much more interesting. His big league exposure is limited (172.1 IP across four seasons), in part because he underwent hip labrum surgery last year. Detwiler’s a tall and lanky drink of water (listed at 6-foot-5 and 185 lbs.), and he lives and dies with a two-seam fastball that averaged 92 mph this past season. He also throws a changeup and a curveball. His peripheral stats (career 5.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9, and 43.3% grounders) are very similar to Lannan’s with the exception of the ground ball rate, but I think there’s a little more upside here because he throws harder and is getting further away from surgery. Maybe I’m just blinded by the high draft pick thing, though.

Lannan is a Super Two and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this year, so his team controls his rights for another three years like Gardner. Detwiler is still in his pre-arbitration years and is under team control for another four years by my unofficial count. Both guys are back-end starters in the NL right now, so I can’t imagine them being any better in the AL East. Larry Rothschild has a reputation of improving his pitchers’ strikeout abilities, but you can’t count on that. The Yankees need pitching, but I can’t imagine they’re desperate enough to trade Gardner, a valuable but still flawed player, for one of Lannan or Detwiler. A 2-for-1 deal would be a bit more interesting, but I still wouldn’t pull the trigger.