It's no secret that the New York Yankees' lineup is left-handed heavy. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez serve as the lone, ahem, productive righty hitters in the everyday lineup. (Sorry Russell Martin, but your .180 average isn't helping anybody, even if you did hit a homer last night.)
Now with news that Brett Gardner might miss the season, the Yankees will definitely be looking for some outfield help. Ideally, they'll be looking for someone who can duplicate Gardner's style of play, but right now, they're just looking for someone to give poor Raul Ibanez some rest.
As much as every Yankee fan would love Justin Upton, we can't forget about the Yankees' payroll plan for 2014. That'll limit who the Yankees target unless they're gonna channel their inner George Steinbrenner and shell out the money.
The majority of the guys on this list will be outfielders, but there's going a surprise appearance by at other position. I won't ruin what it is, but you might be able to guess it.
Josh Willlingham is gonna kick off this list because he would fit nicely into the Yankees lineup with his right-handed power. The downside is how willing the Minnesota Twins would be to let him go after signing him, but I'm sure for the right price, the Twins could be convinced to trade him.
With 22 homers and 65 RBI, the Yankees would welcome his power immediately. What helps most is his righty bat to help the Yankees fight off those tough lefty pitchers.
He's far better against lefties as his on-base percentage is 20 points higher against lefties, and his slugging percentage is, wait for it, 320 points higher. So yeah, there's that.
The Yankees could use his production with runners in scoring position too. He's batting .300/.444/567 with four homers and 40 RBI.
Willingham could slide into left field giving Raul Ibanez some rest and filling in for Brett Gardner. He could also play right field next year if the Yankees let Nick Swisher go in free agency. At $7 million a year, he could fit into the Yankees' payroll plan if he continues to produce.
Jeff Francoeur isn't the New York Yankees' ideal replacement for Brett Gardner. There are some aspects to him, however, that the Yankees should at least consider.
Francoeur has some power with eight home runs in the season thus far. His defense in the field would get him hugs from Raul Ibanez for allowing Ibanez to have a couple of days off.
The downside is his price. He's making $6.75 million this year and make $7.5 million next year. That's a little high for what he's producing. At least he'll be off the books the year after that and won't factor into the Yankees' payroll plans for 2014.
Like Josh Willingham, he could fill in for Nick Swisher next year should Swisher decide to leave. My concern is that he's being paid a starter's salary when he isn't exactly producing like a starter. Francoeur isn't terrible and the Yankees should definitely look into him. There just might be some better options for that price.
I said there'd be a surprise, didn't I?
Carlos Ruiz is a powerful bat this season that could give the Yankees some offense from the catcher position. Ruiz could even part-time DH whenever Alex Rodriguez isn't filling that spot.
Nothing against Russell Martin, but he's not exactly Mike Piazza this season.
Batting .353/.412/.595, Ruiz would give the Yankees a boost in their production from their catchers. His inclusion would allow the Yankees to be an offensive threat up and down the lineup like the Yankees of old.
With the Philadelphia Phillies at the bottom of the NL East, one would expect them to be sellers before the trade deadline. Carlos Ruiz is a free agent this offseason, so the Phillies might try to get something in return for him if they don't re-sign him.
I kicked this idea around before, and I still think the Yankees should at least inquire about Carlos Quentin. Granted, he's possibly the farthest player from Brett Gardner that's out there, but he can still help the Yankees.
His defense and runners in scoring position numbers aren't going to help anyone. Quentin's bat would at least make sense for the Yankees.
Right-handed power is what the Yankees currently lack. Quentin has hit at least 20 homers in the past four seasons and he's hit eight in 35 games so far. He would definitely give the Yankees power from the right-hand side.
The Yankees are quite partial to on-base machines and Quentin's .391 OBP would fit in with the Yankees' preferred approach at the plate. With hitters like Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher having off years, especially with their on-base percentage, bringing Quentin in could help boost the Yankees' on-base percentage.
Reed Johnson is the closest player on this list to Brett Gardner. Sure, there are other players who fit Brett Gardner's mold better, but they're either unrealistic or shouldn't be bothered with.
Johnson is a contact hitter that fares well against righties and lefties alike. Ever since his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, Johnson's always been able to make contact and get on-base. That's the type of player the Yankees need right now.
It helps that he's batting .367/.387/.567 as a No. 9 hitter since that's where he'll likely bat if he joins the Yankees. His RISP numbers could also help the Yankees as he's batting .290 with an OBP of .371.
If the Yankees trade for one player on this list, I'd want it to be Johnson. He can hit and play the all the outfield spots allowing the regulars to get rest. Johnson is also playing for cheap and shouldn't take a whole lot to acquire.
Besides, I'm sure Theo Epstein would like to give the Yankees an edge over the Boston Red Sox.