It’s no secret that Mark Teixeira has been incredibly bad this year, but what if I told you that the idea of him being a trade piece at the deadline hasn’t completely died yet?
After an impressive 2015 season, the Yankees really needed Mark Teixeira to step up again this year, but instead he completely flubbed the season. Tex missed an extended period of time because of a near-season ending knee injury that created a musical chairs procession of first baseman, and when he did return, nothing was different.
As a -1.4 WAR player, Teixeira’s struggles have been one of the main reasons the Yankees are hovering around .500 this late in the season. He has hit a whopping .189/.271/.320 so far with only eight home runs, and while that is not the kind of production a team will be looking for at the deadline, he still has time to make things right.
See, in the last season of the eight-year, $180 million deal that the Yankees are finally going to shed from their payroll, Teixeira will be owed a pro-rated portion of $23 million over the rest of the campaign. Absolutely no one will be interested in taking on that kind of money right now, but nobody has to be. Since he’s such a financial burden, the Yankees don’t have to trade him by the August 1st deadline, they can wait until August 31st instead.
Guys like Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and even Carlos Beltran would easily get claimed on waivers, but Mark Teixeira would slide right through. No one is going to want to trade for him at the deadline at the rate he’s going, but since he will make it through waivers, the Yankees have much more time to hope that he figures things out.
By keeping him through the end of August, they can allot him another month and a half to get healthy (for once) and start hitting again. Otherwise they’re stuck with him for the rest of the season. It’s not something that the Yankees can hope on or expect to happen, because Teixeira is terrible at this point, but it’s something that could come to pass.
It’s easy to get to the point where you hope someone else plays in place of him. He isn’t a long-term factor anymore, and Rob Refsnyder has had some success at the position, but it’s better to play Tex now because if the team decides to sell, a hot-hitting Mark Teixeira could actually have some value.
ZiPS projects him to hit much better over the rest of the season, predicting a .220/.309/.408 batting line equal to a 90 wRC+ value. That’s not really the kind of production that you want from a first baseman, but it’s decent compared to what he’s done in 2016 so far. Considering his defense at first as an added perk, and you have a useful piece for a playoff-bound team who has nothing else.
The Texas Rangers could now use an extra hitter now that Prince Fielder is on the disabled list. The Houston Astros could also use him because their designated hitter Evan Gattis has been terrible this year and they don’t seem to have a permanent first baseman in place yet. The Pittsburgh Pirates could also use a better fielder over John Jaso at first base. It might be easy to call Teixeira useless at this point, but there are clearly teams out there with a need. It just a matter of how needy they get.
This is obviously all dependent on Teixeira getting out of his season-long slump and staying healthy for the next two months. It might be a tall order, but it won’t cost the Yankees anything extra. With Greg Bird out for the season, it’s not like he’s in anyone’s way. If Mark Teixeira can somehow find his swing from here, there’s at least a chance another team could show interest if the Yankees take on some money. This is a team that should be willing to pay whatever it takes to get an interesting piece back. It might be unlikely, but stranger things have happened (I think).