The Yankees made a couple of medium-profile additions in separate deals Friday and Saturday, picking up Austin Kearns for a player to be named later or cash, and then acquiring reliever Kerry Wood for a player to be named later or cash, in addition to picking up between $1.7 and$1.9 million of Wood’s remaining salary.
Both players came from the Cleveland Indians, and the contracts of both expire after the season.
Kearns, 30, hit .272/.354/.419 with Cleveland, his first solid offensive showing since 2007. He also contributed solid defense in the outfield corners.
The Yankees are considering using him as a platoon partner for Curtis Granderson, who struggles with lefties, but Kearns hit .284/.365/.433 off of righties and just .250/.330/.390 against southpaws with the Indians.
Over his career, Kearns has hit for more power against righties, with only marginally more contact against lefties, so he’s a fairly platoon-neutral hitter; not exactly the sort of lefty-masher that would be ideal to platoon with Granderson.
Still, he’s a solid player who has few glaring faults, so picking up Kearns for essentially nothing (I’ll assume the PTNBL is nobody of consequence, since cash is an alternative) is nice for the Yankees.
Wood has really struggled this year, so the fact that Cleveland was able to take half his salary off the books and get a PTNBL or extra cash beyond that was pretty nice. Wood was nothing special last year, either, and has been worth just 0.2 WAR in 2009-10 combined.
Wood has ditched his slider for a cutter, hoping that it’ll prevent injuries, but the slider was a better pitch, and he’s also lost some fastball command. Wood actually throws his fastball in the upper 90’s now, harder than he ever did, but like many pitchers, he doesn’t have good command or movement at that velocity. That’s led to elevated homer and walk rates the past two years. Sounds a lot like the Yankee incarnation of Kyle Farnsworth to me, and certainly not an upgrade on Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning. Wood could do more harm than good, and Cleveland’s lucky to have unloaded him.