New York Yankees: With Jesus Montero Gone, Who Will DH in 2012?
The Yankees finally addressed their starting rotation yesterday, when they shipped top prospect Jesus Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi to the Mariners for All-Star right-hander Michael Pineda and 19-year-old right-hander Jose Campos.
The team also signed Dodgers free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal as the rotation now looks significantly stronger and has plenty of depth with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia likely headed to the bullpen.
However, in dealing Montero, the Yankees now have a hole at DH that will need to be addressed in the weeks to come leading up to spring training. Luckily, there is never a shortage of DH options for a team both internally and on the free-agent market.
Here is a look at who could step into that role for the Yankees in 2012.
Internal Option: Jorge Vazquez
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Signed out of the Mexican League in December of 2008, Vazquez hit .262 BA, 32 HR, 93 RBI last season in his first full year at Triple-A.
A veteran of the Mexican League, Vazquez will be 30 this coming season, so there is not much upside there, but his power is for real and he has at least earned a shot at some major league at-bats.
The MVP of the Caribbean Series last year, Vazquez will at least be in the running for a bench job this spring and he could play his way into significant at-bats at DH if all goes well.
Free-Agent Option: Vladimir Guerrero
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Following a resurgent 2010 season with the Rangers in which he hit .300 BA, 29 HR, 115 RBI Guerrero regressed last season and looks to be nearing the end of his fantastic career.
Still, he was by no means an offensive liability last season, hitting .290 BA, 13 HR, 63 RBI and staying healthy enough to play in 145 games.
He cost the Orioles just $8 million last year coming off an All-Star season, so he should come even cheaper to whoever decides to take a chance on the 37-year-old this winter, and that could very well be the Yankees.
Free-Agent Option: Johnny Damon
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A member of the Yankees from 2006-2009, Damon enjoyed a solid season in Tampa Bay last year in which he hit .261 BA, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 79 R.
He is closing in on 3,000 hits as he will enter 2012 with 2,723 for his career, so he still has plenty to play for at 38 years old.
With the Rays signing Luke Scott, Damon likely won't be back in Tampa and the Yankees could make a push to reacquire their former lead-off hitter who made just $5.25 million last season.
Trade Option: Carlos Lee
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In the final year of the six-year, $100 million contract he signed back in 2007, Lee is no longer the perennial .300 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI player he used to be.
Lee managed to drive in 94 runs in an abysmal Astros lineup last season, so he still has run production ability, and it wouldn't take much in the way of prospects to convince the Astros to unload him.
Internal Option: Andruw Jones
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While he is no longer the All-Star, impact slugger that he was in his prime with the Braves, there is still plenty left in the tank for the 35-year-old Jones.
Signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract prior to last season, Jones hit .247 BA, 13 HR, 33 RBI over 190 at-bats. That translates to about 27 HR and 69 RBI if he manages just 400 at-bats.
He may be better suited as a backup outfielder and top hitter off the bench at this point, but at the one-year, $2 million price tag they brought him back on, he would certainly be a cost-effective and fairly productive option.
Free Agent Option: Carlos Pena
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According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, Pena is at the very least on the Yankees radar following the trades that went down yesterday, and there is some history to think the Yankees would have some serious interest in the slugger.
Chances are he won't hit above .250, but Pena has solid on-base skills (.352 career OBP) and his left-handed power bat would play well in Yankee Stadium where a 30 HR, 100 RBI season would not be out of the question.