Outfielder Shakedown

Over the past 24 hours, the free agent outfield market has become three names thinner.

1. Ross

First, 2010 NLCS MVP Cody Ross signed a three year, $26 million deal with the Diamondbacks.

It’s an intriguing signing, as the Diamondbacks already had considerable outfield depth. However, this does free up another outfielder (probably NOT Justin Upton) as a trade chip. While his numbers trended upward this year from 2011, he’s 32 as of today, and probably won’t be worth the money at the end of the deal.

In fact, the last time his WAR was above 2 was 2009. However, some of his numbers and accomplishments exceed those of players receiving deals almost as good (Jonny Gomes, Ross’s replacement, for example).

The deal has a club option for a fourth year.

2. Ibanez

During the evening we learned that former Yankee/Phillie Raul Ibanez signed with the Mariners for $2.75 million in 2013.

His postseason heroics, as well as the years he spent in Seattle, likely helped him reach the deal. With incentives, he could be worth $4 million. The most likely scenario is that Ibanez finds himself in a platoon, batting against righties.

3. Swisher

Nick Swisher accepted a 4 year, $56 million offer from the Indians.

I thought that if the Dodgers, Angels, or Yankees offered him something close he might take it. After all, postseason chances are no small thing. Apparently, though, the deal was sweet enough for his taste. Swisher has been a consistent bat, maybe worth $10 million a year, but the Indians wanted him enough to spend the extra money.

Where does that leave the outfield market?

4. Bourn

Michael Bourn is the last big name listed.

Not many teams are biting on Bourn. The Rangers are “interested in” Bourn, but that’s a fairly non-committal statement, and they’re early in the process. Given how this offseason has turned out thus far, the signs lead to Bourn signing for a one-year deal, recouping his losses and taking a shot in free agency again next year.

5. Hairston

On the second tier, Scott Hairston is still available. Hairston is being pursued by at least the Phillies, Braves, Mets and Yankees.

He’s a career .247 player who hit 20 HR for the first time in his career and only maintained a WAR above 2 in 2008 (when he played 112 games). He has yet to make 400 plate appearances. But perhaps he can play 140-145 games.
Especially with the three signings over the last 24 hours, it’s become a thin market, and that’s probably why Hairston is getting such a hard look from multiple teams. He may have more leverage in negotiations than he would have had yesterday.

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