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Which potential non-tender candidates could be fits for the Yankees?

In a few weeks a new batch a free agents will hit the market after they're non-tendered. Which of those players could be fits for the Yankees?

Andy Lyons

Yesterday, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors published a post in regards to potential non-tender candidates. The deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract is December 2. If they're not tendered contracts they'll hit the open market along with the rest of the available free agents. Here are some potential non-tender players who could be fits for the Yankees:

Left-handed platoon bats

Seth Smith: Smith, who is projected to get $4.3 million in arbitration, is expected to get non-tendered by the Athletics considering they have Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, and Josh Reddick in their outfield already. He hit .253/.329/.391 with a 102 wRC+ in 117 games and 410 plate appearances for Oakland. Smith has proven he's strictly a platoon bat this year (109 wRC+ vs RHP, 75 wRC+ vs LHP) and in his career (120 wRC+ in 1893 PA's vs RHP, 52 wRC+ in 406 PA's vs LHP) and would be an obvious upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki and his pathetic .235/.282/.307, 57 wRC+ line against righties in 2013.

Garrett Jones: Jones, who is expected to earn $5.3 million in arbitration, hit .233/.289/.419, 97 wRC+ in 2013 with 417 of his 440 plate appearances coming against right-handed pitching, and for good reason. He's a career .271/.337/.489, 124 wRC+ hitter against RHP in 2003 PA's and a .193/.234/.344, 53 wRC+ hitter against LHP in 526 PA's. He can "play" the outfield, but is a disaster out there and is probably just a 1B/DH type (or maybe just a DH) moving forward. If you remember, the Yankees had interest in acquiring Jones in the A.J Burnett trade before receiving minor league scraps for the right-hander instead.

Right-handed platoon bats

Justin Ruggiano: Given Vernon Wells' inability to hit left-handed pitching (as well as literally everything else), the Yankees could look for a replacement. Ruggiano hit just .222/.298/.396, 92 wRC+ in 472 PA's for the Marlins last year, but hit .248/.329/.504, 130 wRC+ in 150 PA's against lefties. He's a career .256/.328/.506, 127 wRC+ hitter against LHP, but with just 353 PA's in his three-year Major League career. The outfielder is expected to earn $1.8MM in arbitration this winter.

Drew Stubbs: Stubbs is an interesting player. He has some power (.142 career ISO), steals bases (career 127 SB's; 17 in 2013 and 30 the year before), and plays relatively well in the outfield (depending on which defensive metrics you look at), but hasn't put it all together. He is, however, a useful lefty masher. The 29-year-old Stubbs, who is expected to earn $3.8MM through arbitration, is a career .274/.349/.448, 117 wRC+ hitter in 681 career PA's against southpaws.

Jesus Guzman: I seriously hadn't heard of Jesus Guzman until I saw him in Dierke's list of non-tender candidates, but evidently he has fared well against left-handed pitching in the past. Guzman, who split his time between the outfield and first base for the Padres in 2013, hit .245/.309/.381, 96 wRC+ against lefties, but has a career .286/.358/.460, 130 wRC+ in 408 PA's vs. LHP. Guzman is expected to earn $1.3MM through arbitration.

Right-handed relievers

John Axford: Once upon a time Axford was one of the better closers in the game. In 2011, Axford pitched to a 1.95 ERA and 2.41 FIP while collecting 46 saves for the then division champion Milwaukee Brewers. Long story short, Axford has had his troubles and has landed with the St. Louis Cardinals. After pitching to a 4.45 ERA and 4.77 FIP in 62 games with the Brewers this season, the team traded him to the Cardinals where he made his final 13 appearances, pitching to a 1.74 ERA and 2.08 FIP. The former Yankee farmhand could make $5.7MM through arbitration, and if non-tendered, the Yankees should definitely take a look into signing him to fill their late-inning needs in the bullpen.

Kevin Jepsen: Jepsen has had a bit of a roller coaster career with the Angels. He was good in 2012 (49 games, 3.02 ERA, 3.21 FIP) and 2010 (68 games, 3.97 ERA, 3.03 FIP), okay in 2013 (45 games, 4.50, 3.38 FIP) while missing time with a shoulder strain and an appendectomy and 2009 (54 games, 4.94 ERA, 2.86 FIP), and bad in 2011 (16 games, 7.62 ERA, 6.41 FIP) while missing a chunk of time following right-knee surgery. He's always done a decent job at getting strikeouts, though, as he has a career 8.2 K/9. The hard-throwing righty used to rack up ground balls at a pretty high clip, but since 2012 he has just a 37.7% GB-rate. Jepsen is expected to make $1.4MM through arbitration.


Jose Mijares: You all remember Mijares from 2009 when he gave up the walk-off home run to Mark Teixeira in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS, don't you? Of course you do. Mijares, though, has done a pretty decent job against left-handed batters. Over his career he has held lefties to a a .225/.288/.335 line in 533 PA's. The 29-year-old is projected to make $2.1 million in arbitration.

Phil Coke: Coke, as we all know, was part of that big trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, Austin Jackson to the Tigers (and Max Scherzer), and Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. Since being in Detroit, Coke has been toyed around with as a starter, but was transitioned back to his role of LOOGY in the Tigers' 'pen. He had a very rough 2013, however, which included a .299/.345/.416 line against lefties. In his career, though, he has held left-handed batters to a .241/.294/.347 line in 672 PA's. The man who loves to finger point at fly balls (and even home runs) is expected to make $2.1 million through arbitration.

Joe Thatcher: If the Yankees want a second left-hander (assuming Cesar Cabral makes the team) to replace Boone Logan on the cheap, Thatcher may be their guy. He held lefties to a .250/.323/.310 line in 97 PA's just this past season. Over the duration of his career, he has allowed lefties to hit just .218/.284/.331 against him in 414 PA's. The lefty, who was dealt to the desert as part of the Ian Kennedy trade, is projected to make $2 million in arbitration.

Although the Yankees are supposedly going to go on some sort of a spending spree this winter, they'll need to fill their remaining holes by going dumpster diving for affordable players given the $189 million mandate (Yes, it is a mandate despite what Hal tells you). Some players mentioned in this post make more sense than others, obviously, but they could all be targets to fill some empty spots as the winter progresses.

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