Brian Cashman has not faired very well with his free agent signings this season.
Wells + Youkilis + Ichiro: .242/.291/.399 and $30M in salary in 2013. Hard to have a worse offseason.— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) June 18, 2013
Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, and Ichiro Suzuki have combined for 0.3 WAR. Then on top of that Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay have added another 0.5 WAR and $3 million combined, making a grand total of $33 million for 0.8 WAR. That's terrible value and people say that the Yankees should have done better, but were they doomed no matter what?
The Yankees decided to pass on Eric Chavez and sign Kevin Youkilis and for awhile it looked like the wrong decision with his 153 wRC+ and 0.9 WAR. His $3 million contract has been worth $4.4 million, however, he has a -14 wRC+ against lefties and, worst of all and why the Yankees let him go, he's now on the disabled list with an oblique strain.
The Yankees were interested in Scott Hairston as a right-handed bat off the bench, but he ultimately signed with the Cubs for $5 million over two years. That deal has not worked out so well because right now he has a 44 wRC+ and has been worth -0.8 WAR. Fangraphs says that he's been worth -$4.2 million as a sunk cost. By comparison, Vernon Wells has been worth 75 wRC+ and 0.3 WAR, while being worth $1.4 million.
Josh Hamilton became someone else's problem after he signed a five-year/$125 million contract and produced an 80 wRC+ and 0.1 WAR. He has been terrible against lefties (-4 wRC+) and only worth $0.3 million, despite earning $17 million in 2013. He would still be the Yankees' best corner outfielder, but with a contract that massive, would it have been worth it?
Before Youkilis was signed, Jeff Keppinger's name was thrown around to be the backup third baseman, but after a career year in 2012 (128 wRC+, 2.8 WAR), he has been one of the worst third basemen in the league. He has a 28 wRC+, accumulated -1.5 WAR, didn't get his first walk until May 16th and has only walked four times all season. It looks like the Yankees really missed out on a three-year/$12 million contract. Fangraphs actually says that he owes the White Sox $7.4 million because he's been so bad.
Right now Russell Martin has a wRC+ of 121 and has accumulated 2.2 WAR, but if you break down his production month-by-month you get: 152, 95, 100. That's like when he was with the Yankees and was amazing for the first month and then didn't do much after that. He's been a league-average hitter since April and would be an upgrade over Chris Stewart and Austin Romine, but is that kind of production worth two years/$17 million?
The Yankees were interested in David Ross before the Red Sox signed him to a two-year/$6.2 million contract, but after four straight seasons with a wRC+ over 100 and five straight seasons with a WAR over 1.0, he's now down to an 80 wRC+ and only 0.4 WAR. Fangraphs calculates that he's been worth $2.1 million and the Red Sox are overpaying by an extra $1 million.
Everyone has been missing Nick Swisher now that Mark Teixeira is on the disabled list again, but he's not producing like he was here in New York. He has a 107 wRC+ and has accumulated 1.0 WAR, which is decent, but disappointing after signing a four-year/$56 million contract. On top of that he's been dealing with a shoulder injury that could require a trip to the DL and he already has five errors at first base. He's making $11 million in 2013, but Fangraphs only values him at $5.2 million.
They could have signed a big name 28-year-old free agent in B.J. Upton, however, they passed and the Braves signed him to a five-year/$75.25 million contract. The Yankees avoided a lot of grief because he currently has a 56 wRC+, a -0.1 WAR and has been not-worth -$0.4 million. Somehow he's been worse than Ichiro Suzuki (72 wRC+) and Vernon Wells (75 wRC+), though he's starting to come to life in June.
These players could have been Yankees and fans could be complaining about what the team could have done better. Free agency is supposed to be a sure thing, but it's not. Sometimes contracts work out, for any number of reasons, and sometimes they don't, for any number of reasons. There was nothing the Yankees could have definitely done to make things better. Youkilis could have been a sure thing, but they gambled on his health and lost. I'm not sure what Vernon Wells was supposed to be and I'm not sure what any of these other players could have been in pinstripes, but it looks like Brian Cashman picked his poison.
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