The Yankees limped home after dropping three of four games to Detroit, including two shutouts. In the series, it appeared as if the recent spate of injuries that has befallen the Yankees finally caught up with the team. Over the last four games, the Yankees lineup has been a revolving door, with players shuffling in and out from both the bench and the minor leagues. As a result, the Yankees once circular lineup has been seriously weakened at the bottom. In the losses to Detroit, the bottom three in the order, which at times included Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson and Juan Miranda, stranded 30 of the 47 runners left on base by the team.
Adding insult to the many injuries has been the simultaneous struggles of several big bats in the lineup. In the four game series, the trio of Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada went a combined 5 for 39. If that trend continues, the Yankees could be facing some difficult times ahead, especially with an upcoming schedule that features the Twins, Rays and Red Sox.
With Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson both not expected to return until sometime in June, the Yankees may not have the luxury of waiting for them to get healthy. Instead, Brian Cashman may need to work the phones in an attempt to bolster his ailing roster. Below are a few players rumored to be available as well as an analysis of the likely cost to acquire them and how they would fit into the long-term balance of the team.
Availability: Perhaps the best bat currently available on the market, Berkman has come on strong since returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of April. Berkman is making $14.5mn in the last year of his contract, although the Astros are on the hook for a $2mn buyout of a $15mn option. Berkman has stated his willingness to accept an in-season deal, which should make the process much easier. However, he remains a favorite of Astros owner Drayton McLane, Jr., who has never been the easiest person with whom to make a deal.
Potential Cost: Considering McLane’s reticence to rebuild, it will probably take either a quality major league ready player or at least one blue chip prospect to pry Berkman away. Unfortunately for the Yankees, one of the Astros few top prospects, Jason Castro, is a catcher, a position in which the Yankees farm also has depth. Then again, most rankings of the Astros’ farm system place them well toward the bottom, so perhaps the Yankees could entice a deal with quantity as opposed to quality. If that’s the case, names like Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Zach McAllister might form the basis of a deal, but considering the Yankees own lack of pitching depth, such a price might still be too prohibitive.
How He Fits: As a switch hitter with power, Berkman would fit nicely into the DH role. Of course, that would pretty much spell the end of Nick Johnson. Because 1B is already occupied and Berkman really can’t play the outfield anymore, a trade for Berkman only makes sense if Johnson is expected to miss a significant amount of time. Considering his history, that’s not a far fetched scenario.
Availability: The Royals are off to another dismal start and just fired manager Trey Hillman, so just about anyone outside Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria should be available. DeJesus is in the final year of his contract and is owed a 2010 salary of $4.7mn plus a guaranteed option year ($6mn) buy out of $500,000. Although not exorbitant, the cost conscious Royals, who are unlikely to exercise the option, especially considering the quality of player who signed one year deals around the $6mn mark, may simply be looking to shed some dollars. Dayton Moore recently stated that no player moves were being considered, but just last week he also said Hillman was doing a terrific job. According to numerous reports over the off season, the Royals dangled David DeJesus, so it shouldn’t take much for them to entertain offers.
Potential Cost: One off season rumor involved the Yankees trading Brett Gardner straight up for David DeJesus. In retrospect, that looks to be a good deal that the Yankees didn’t make. Unlike the Astros, the Royals’ farm system has a nice collection of talented bats and an abundance of projectable arms (despite the curious decision of Danny Duffy, one of their better young arms, to take a leave of absence) so Kansas City could be looking to fill an organizational need. Despite having impressive catching prospect Wil Myers in the low minors, the Royals might be interested in improving their catching depth, particularly with one closer to the major leagues. Francisco Cervelli might be someone they’d entertain. Cervelli’s stock has never been higher, so if the Yankees are firm in their projection of him as a backup, now might be the time to deal him.
How He Fits: DeJesus would fill the current outfield void created by the injury to Curtis Granderson. He would also provide insurance in case Brett Gardner is unable to sustain his early season improvements. However, because he is a lefty, like Gardner and Granderson, DeJesus would provide little flexibility for Girardi to maneuver. In other words, DeJesus is probably only a fit if Granderson’s groin injury is expected to linger.
Availability: Ty Wigginton has exploded out of the gate in 2010, making him an attractive early season trade target. Like Drayton McLane, however, Peter Angelos has always been loathe to rebuild and reticent to trade away players early in the season. Because Wigginton is only making $3.5mn, the Orioles have little financial incentive to trade one of their most productive players in the early going.
Potential Cost: Despite recent promotions, the Orioles’ farm system still possesses impressive depth. According to a report in the Seattle Times, the Mariners may be sniffing around Wigginton, so competition will only make the cost go up. The same article also suggests that Baltimore might first seek to unload Garret Atkins or Luke Scott, both of whom would clearly be unattractive alternatives.
How He Fits: As a right handed bat who could fill in at various positions (albeit as a defensive liability), Wigginton is actually an ideal player for the Yankees. Not only would he be a suitable band-aid for the team’s recent injuries, but he’d also provide well rounded depth once the roster becomes whole. He is basically the right handed version of Eric Hinske, who served a small, but important role on the 2009 championship team. Unfortunately, a sensible trade between the Yankees and Orioles doesn’t seem likely.
Availability: When Ryan Garko was released by the Mariners, I was hopefully the Yankees would be able to pick him up. Unfortunately, the Texas Rangers were above them in the waiver process, and won the claim. Well, now comes word that the Rangers also plan to place Garko on outright waivers this evening when they activate Nelson Cruz from the disabled place.
Potential Cost: Nothing. If Garko clears enough teams to reach the Yankees, they can pick him up by simply making a claim.
How He Fits: Ryan Garko would serve two roles on the team: DH against lefties when Marcus Thames is shoe horned into left field as well as first bat off the bench. Despite his struggles this year, Garko has always hit lefties well (.302/.382/.476). Along with Thames, Garko would give Girardi some flexibility to pinch hit for the likes of Randy Winn, Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson, et al., when they are in the game. Although clearly not an earth shattering pick-up, a batter like Garko could be of some value, at least until Nick Johnson returns from the DL.