New York Yankees possible trade targets: Outfield

Can the Yanks land a bat to complement their three lefty speedsters?
07/16/2014 11:20 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Could Josh Willingham be a good "rental" option for the Yankees?(AP)
With Alfonso Soriano gone and Carlos Beltran limited to a designated hitter role, the Yankees could be looking for an outfield bat to complement Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki in the second half.

There's not a lot of beef out on the trade market in that category, but assuming that Carlos Beltran is back to full health next year, the Yankees have a full starting outfield with a slew of prospects in the minors - so, in this case, with one big exception that's a bit of a leap of faith, we've taken a look at guys who would be either true rentals or are cost-effective enough possibilities to be a fourth outfielder beyond 2014.

That set of criteria doesn't leave much sex appeal in the market, but the Yankees need the steak more than the sizzle, and there are a handful of trade partners who could produce good fits.

Like with their pitching, the Twins may not have much to sell in terms of bats, but like they do with Kevin Correia, Minnesota may have one bat that could very much interest the Yankees: Josh Willingham. Now in the final stage of the three-year, $21 million deal he signed prior to 2012, Willingham's numbers (.212-8-25 in 49 games) aren't as strong as they were even two years ago (.260-35-110 in 2012), but he's a righty power bat with right field experience, and that's pretty much the main qualification for inclusion here.

As Doug Williams wrote last week, this wouldn't be a sexy trade per se, but acquiring John Mayberry Jr. might make a lot of sense for the Yankees - especially since the Phillies don't seem to have room for him to play every day even though they have him under team control for two more years if desired.

Mayberry is a career .271 hitter vs. lefties (and is at .245 this season against .185 vs. righties), and given his ability to play first base, he could be valuable if platooned with Ichiro and used to spell Mark Teixeira once in a while.

Philly's whole outfield is actually full of interesting and potential options, but Domonic Brown is most likely not headed anywhere, Ben Revere is too similar to the three outfielders the Yankees have already, and their most valuable trade chip, Marlon Byrd, but he is owed roughly $12 million through next year with a hefty vesting option for 2016, so he may be too expensive and/or long a commitment.

It was just five years ago that Texas was en route to becoming a perennial World Series candidate, while Alex Rios was simply waived by Toronto (despite having five-plus years and almost $60 million left on his contract) because of his inconsistency.

Flash forward to 2014 and it's role reversal time, as the Rangers enter the break with the worst record in baseball and Rios, who is in the final guaranteed year of that large contract, is hitting .305 with four homers, 42 RBI and a league-leading eight triples.

He would seem to fit well in New York, where the dimensions might help bring his power numbers back up to where they've been, but two things complicate it: he has a limited no-trade clause that would allow him to block a deal, and the Rangers also hold a hefty team option for 2015 (which increases in value if he is traded again). Still, an intriguing possibility.

Would it be unusual for a first-place team like the Nationals to make a deal where they send an established player away for less in return? Maybe, but when you consider that in our scenario, the player in question is Scott Hairston, it might not be so far-fetched.

Hairston missed almost all of April with an oblique strain and hasn't recovered much playing time, getting just 45 plate appearances and starting only six of his 29 games played. In short, he's a pinch-hitter at best in Washington, and while the Nationals might prefer to move Denard Span if anyone in their logjam of an outfield, Hairston has shown good power in the past, is inexpensive (even if he hits likely bonuses, he's owed less than $2 million the rest of the way), and, if the Yankees cover that right-handed bat with pop, could fetch a decent prospect for what is, to the Nats, an expendable part.

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