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Can Brian Cashman Trade for a Hitter?

By Mike Silva ~ January 24th, 2012. Filed under: New York Yankees.

Since the deal that sent Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda, we have been discussing which free agent DH makes sense for the Yankees. Names like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero, Raul Ibanez, and before he signed with Tampa, Carlos Pena all were debated. There is an internal option such as Jorge Vazquez that is unlikely, but can’t be discounted. Based on his comments to reporters yesterday, it appears that Brian Cashman’s desire is to trade for a bat; possibly using Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett as the bait.

Talent will determine which player is more likely to be dealt. Burnett holds little equity around the league and will be a salary dump or bad contract for bad contract scenario. Hughes still has upside, and could possibly fetch a decent hitter in return. Also in play is the Yankees goal of getting under $189 million dollars of payroll in the next two years

Starting with Burnett, two names that have been speculated on are Adam Dunn and Jason Bay.

Dunn has 3 years and $44 million remaining on his contract. He’s coming off a historically bad year where he hit .159 with 11 HRS. Yes, that’s not a typo, Dunn hit a measly .159. I would call him Dave Kingman, but he lacked the power that Kong displayed in his prime. Kingman also was able to reach the Mendoza Line.

Has Dunn’s game expired? I don’t think so. The Yankees would be taking on $11 million in contract, but a productive Dunn would fit in well in that lineup. I always have felt Dunn is a good #5 hitter on a good team. He can be pitched to by lefties, but can wreck games with his power. He averaged 40 home runs a year before signing with Chicago. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would hit 50 playing half his games at Yankee Stadium.

Would this benefit Chicago? The team that seems to be in a rebuilding mode, but doesn’t want to admit it, would be doing this to just save money. On the field, it depends on how much value Kenny Williams has for a veteran that can give close to 200 innings. Perhaps that is a factor as they lost Edwin Jackson and Mark Buehrle over the last year.

Jason Bay is a more unlikely option. This idea is born from Mets fans looking to rid themselves of another Omar Minaya mistake. Where Dunn had an odd one year drop-off, Bay has been injured and ineffective since signing a 4-year deal after the 2009 season. The salaries of Bay and Burnett almost match perfectly ($16 million to $16.5 million). Bay has a looming $17 million option that triggers based on a reasonable amount of plate appearances. In other words, if Bay starts he will have an additional year on the books.

One thing to consider with Bay is he could be a good option to balance the left-handedness of the lineup. Even in 2011, a down year, Bay hit .300 against LHP with an OPS over .900. It’s not common to see these two teams match up for a deal, but if the Yankees are desperate enough to land a bat and rid themselves of Burnett, this could be a viable option.

On the flip side, the Mets would be saving money, which is paramount to the Wilpons, and improving their rotation. Burnett will still be inconsistent and frustrating in the National League, but if he is going to regain his form I think it has a better chance of it happening in the league without the DH. Getting away from the expectations of the Bronx won’t hurt either.

One other option mentioned by Steve S. at the Yankee Analysts is Travis Hafner. The Indians may be able to contend in the AL Central this year, and could use some pitching help. Hafner is owed $13 million for the next two years; both sides would only have to figure out the $7 million dollar difference.

Hafner is no longer an everyday player; he’s averaged 91 games a season since 2008. He also struggled against LHP (.680 OPS), but that could mean you keep someone like Vazquez on the roster to split time. Hafner also would open the DH spot more often for A-Rod, Teixeira, and other veterans. Just like with Dunn, Hafner’s left-handed power bat would do well at Yankee Stadium.

Where does Hughes come into play? I wouldn’t trade him for any of the aforementioned hitters, although I am sure Kenny Williams, Sandy Alderson, and Chris Antonetti wouldn’t mind.

The big question is whether the Yankees are willing to take on payroll. Most acquisitions will require the Yanks to add an additional year and salary to the payroll.

Personally, I would push to acquire Dunn. Realistically, I think if the Yankees really want to rid themselves of Burnett the Mets might be their best option. I predict making a deal will be difficult and Cashman will wind up having to bring in a free agent on a low base incentive deal.


Of course, there is another option and that is releasing Burnett outright as discussed by Joseph Delgrippo on Saturday.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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8 Responses to Can Brian Cashman Trade for a Hitter?

  1. Joseph DelGrippo

    “Dunn hit a measly .159. I would call him Dave Kingman, but he lacked the power that Kong displayed in his prime.”

    In his prime, Dunn hit 206 HRs over a five year stretch (ages 24-29), with at least 40 each season.

    Through his age 31 season, Dunn has hit 365 HRs, while Kingman had 277 HRs through his age 31 season.

    Dunn had better power in his prime than Kingman had.

    But I do agree that Dunn can turn it around in NY for several reasons.

    First, he has worked out all winter and supposedly has lost a bunch of weight. There are always exceptions (Miguel Cabrera) but generally extra body weight (ie: fat) can restrict a hitters ability to use their lower half, which also restricts power. Less body weight and a healthier core would help Dunn hit for power again.

    Second, I believe that Kevin Long can help any hitter become better. Toughest thing to teach a hitter is plate discipline, but Dunn’s top quality now is his plate discipline. Long will help Dunn improve his hitting mechanics and therefore his ability to make more consistent hard contact.

    That would then equal a higher average and better power than last season.

  2. Chuck Johnson

    Heading into the 2011 season, Dunn was a .231 lifetime hitter against lefties in almost 1800 career PA’s with a .788 OPS.

    Not great by any stretch, but certainly respectable for a LH power hitter.

    In 2011, Dunn was 6-94 (.064) with one extra base hit and a .309 OPS against lefties.

    Arguably one of the biggest single season statistical anomalies in history.

    New league, new position, new pitchers.

    Dunn’s a lock for Comeback POY in 2012, and if he wins it wearing a Yankee uniform, sign me up.

  3. Joe

    Burnett & $8 mil. for Dunn.

  4. Etorlando

    Here is what I propose

    Three team deal

    Aj Burnett + 8 million for Dunn and Floyd
    Floyd and chamberlain to Angels for Trumbo plus 4 million

  5. Joe

    Three team deal

    Aj Burnett + 8 million for Dunn and Floyd
    Floyd and chamberlain to Angels for Trumbo plus 4 million

    You’d have to give the White Sox more than that to get Floyd involved in the deal.

  6. MLB Ballparks

    No way you can go with Adam Dunn. This entire slump he was in last season in Chicago was because he hadn’t adjusted to being the DH. So why take that risk? Go with a proven free agent like Vlad and pay him cheap for two years. Cashman knows what he is doing.

  7. Stu B

    Trading Montero for Pineda and then Hughes for a hitter to replace Montero seems like a zero-sum game for the Yankees. What would they have gained if they do that?

  8. Bard

    Cashman wouldnt touch Dunn with a ten foot pole

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