The New York Yankees claimed Lane Adams off waivers on Friday, a 26-year-old outfielder from the Royals’ farm system. At the surface, Adams is an intriguing option as a career minor league who offers speed, power and the ability to get on base. Adams, still in his prime but clearly not a top prospect, slugged a career best 16 HR in 2015, complimented with a .281/.347 clip and 29 stolen bases.
The transaction could be something as simple as a good enough talent worth making a claim on and worth parting with Ronald Torreyes, signed earlier in the week from the Dodgers as an infielder who isn’t going to turn any heads as anything more than infield depth.
Maybe it’s trading outfield depth for infield depth. Maybe it’s another temporary move until something better comes along as often is the case this time of year when teams try to finalize spring training invites.
But the Yankees are deep in the way of major and minor league outfield talent. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Aaron Hicks are already slated for the major league roster. Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder could play the outfield in a pinch. Top prospect, Aaron Judge, is a right fielder starting in AAA and could be called up at any moment this year. Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and Ben Gamel are all upper minors depth, most with MLB experience. Designating an infielder, of which they have six remaining (five of whom will likely be on the MLB roster this season) in exchange for a ninth outfielder on the 40 man roster alone seems at least somewhat curious.
Does signing an older, higher ceiling outfielder like Adams signify the Yankees, at a minimum, are gearing up for a trade and at a maximum, have one in mind? It could be, as Hicks and Adams could form a solid platoon in left should someone like Gardner get traded for a reliable starter. Both can hit lefties well and Adams held his own vs righties. And both platooning says nothing of Judge getting off to a hot start and taking a position for his own. With Wei-Yei Chen coming off the boards a week or so ago, it’s at least worth wondering if the trade market for starters could find some life over the next month or so.
Expect the Yankees to designate an outfielder having decided Lane was a better fit or perhaps make a patented under the radar type of trade over the next month involving players from its vast outfield depth.