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Ankiel a 'great' fit?

07/19/2012 2:52 PM ET
By Jon Lane

Ankiel's best days are behind him, but he represents a low-risk, high-reward acquisition.(AP)

So says MLB Network’s Peter Gammons after the former pitcher-turned-outfielder was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals.

The Yankees have reportedly been shopping for an outfielder given the increased possibility that Brett Gardner (elbow) will be sidelined for the rest of the season. At or near the top of the list is Shane Victorino, 31 years old, in the final year of a three-year, $22 million contract in Philadelphia and likely at the cost of mid-to-upper tier prospects in the Yankees’ system. That makes Ankiel more in line with the Yanks’ plan to cut payroll by 2014, writes SBNation New York.

If the Yankees take a chance on Ankiel – and why not seeing how they’ve brought names like Chad Qualls and John Maine into the organization – he’ll either cost next to nothing in a trade or nothing at all if he becomes a free agent. The Yankees would pick up the remainder of the $1.25 million the 33-year-old Ankiel is making this season. As well as Raul Ibanez (.242, 12 home runs, 40 RBIs) and Andruw Jones (.241, 12 homers, 26 RBIs) have manned left field, there is also concern about their stamina come September and October.

On one hand, Ankiel would fit in on a team that while using role players like DeWayne Wise, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada owns baseball’s best record and a 10-game lead in the AL East. He’s a lefty hitter with enough power to handle Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch and who’d provide pop off the bench. For what it’s worth, Ankiel went 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer, three RBIs, two doubles and four runs scored in four games at the Bronx in 2010. Furthermore, the Yankees have caught lightning in a bottle before (Jerry Hairston Jr.-2009, Kerry Wood-2010).

However, don’t expect the Ankiel hotline to burn up. There’s the production the Yankees have received from Ibanez and Jones, whereas Ankiel batted .228 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 68 games in DC, a precipitous fall from 2008 when he was .264-25-71 in St. Louis. Like Ankiel, Dewayne Wise can play all three outfield positions and has come up big during his limited playing time. Lastly, the idea of using Ibanez and/or Jones at DH counteracts Joe Girardi’s plan of rotation his older players at the spot, which has worked extremely well for Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and despite his ongoing struggles a healthy Alex Rodriguez.

If not Ankiel, Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz could be available via a trade. River Ave. Blues scouts Schierholtz’s pros (youth, defense, under control until 2014) and cons (no speed, out of options). But judging from the reaction of this informal poll asking if the Yankees actually need an outfield upgrade by July 31, the consensus is happy with the Ibanez-Jones tag-team.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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