A Better Idea

Buster Olney has been reporting that the Yankees and Pirates have been talking about an AJ Burnett swap. He has also identified that the Yankees would want Garrett Jones in return for AJ. This move makes a lot more sense to me than taking a flier on Raul Ibanez.

Jones isn’t flashy but he can play right and first, which means he should be able to handle left field as well. He can hit righties very well (.275/.354/.483 in his career) but turns to dust against lefties (.199/.237/.366) A tandem of Jones and Jones would form a pretty solid platoon for the Yankees. There are however two problems with this scenario.

First, Andruw Jones is really on the roster to let Brett Gardner take the day off against lefties. Gardner had a .344 OBP against lefties last year, but his slugging and average were well below .300. For his career, he has put up a line of .243/.394/.318 against lefties, making him an ideal platoon candidate. He is 28, so there is always the chance he turns it around against lefties, but right now you probably don’t want him in the lineup when you face them and you certainly wouldn’t want Garrett Jones.

Second, Garrett Jones is arbitration eligible. He has asked for $2.5 million and the Pirates have countered with $2.25. Obviously, trading AJ creates a net savings, but Jones will be arbitration eligible for the 2013-2015 seasons. Adding him will potentially add to the 2014 payroll, though the Yankees could always non-tender him down the road.

I still think the best outcome is to trade AJ and a boatload of cash to a place like Pittsburgh and not ask for much in return. That should allow the Yankees to net out around $6 million a year in savings which they could then use a portion of to sign Damon. That would be my first choice, but this isn’t a terrible backup plan.