Tigers Release Boesch; Good Fit for Yankees?

Boesch would be useful depth for the Yankees.

UPDATE (3/15, 4:56PM):¬†Boesch has joined the Yankees, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. It’s a major league deal, worth $1.5M plus incentives.

Detroit cut ties with Brennan Boesch this morning. The lefty swinging outfielder could make sense for the Yankees, if he makes it through the waiver process. Boesch is owed $2.3M this season, however, the Tigers will only owe Boesch 1/6 of the salary if he goes unclaimed through waivers. Many teams, such as the Mets, are seeking to bolster their outfield and have waiver priority against the Yanks. Depending on the rest of the league’s willingness to place a waiver claim and assume his full salary, Boesch may or may not get through to the open market.

Boesch has been a starting corner outfielder for the Tigers since 2010, but was only an above average producer in 2011, posting a 117 wRC+ in 472 PAs. Last season, he was dreadful, finishing with a 77 wRC+ in 503 PAs. It’s worth noting that his second half of 2011 might have been foreshadowing to his awful 2012: he slumped to a tune of a 79 wRC+ after posting a superb 130 mark in the first half of 2011. All things considered, Boesch has really only been a productive hitter for 1/6 of his entire big league career. Did the league figure him out? Perhaps. But maybe some club is willing to put a claim in on Boesch and assume the risk of his $2.3M salary, hoping he still has the first half of 2011 in him.

If there is anything to like about Boesch, it’s his power potential. In 2009 in AA, he touched off on 28 bombs. His career high in the majors is only 16 in 2011, but some of his power may have been sapped in the large Comerica Park. He did post a .175 ISO that season, which is certainly above average. As noted, he took a major step back in 2012, with his ISO dropping .043 points.

Why did Boesch’s performance crash after the first half of 2011? Checking his player page on Baseball Prospectus, he dealt with right thumb issues on three separate occasions in the second half of that season, ultimately leading to surgery in September. For a lefty batter, the right thumb is an integral part to comfortably guiding the bat through the zone, so Boesch’s performance was likely hindered. This seems to be a logical explanation, but why did it carry over through 2012? Could he have been worried about re-injuring it and thus was compromising his swing? Maybe, but it seems like a reach.

Although the Yankees would be better suited with a righty bat, Boesch is worth a shot for the Yankees. Despite his struggles, a change of scenery could be beneficial for the soon to be 28 year old outfielder. It’s certainly an upgrade for any lefty batter to move from just about any stadium, let alone Comerica Park, to Yankee Stadium. At worst, Boesch could serve as depth, something the Yankees sorely lack; the issue having been exposed when¬†Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira went down.

By Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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