Garrett Jones is a player that the Yankees acquired in the trade that also brought them starter Nate Eovaldi, who will likely be the No. 4 starter, but Jones will also be an important player this season for the Bronx Bombers.
Last season with the Miami Marlins, he hit .246 with 15 homers, 53 RBIs and a .411 SLG%. His best season came in 2012 during his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he had a .274 average with 27 homers, 86 RBIs, a .516 SLG% and 245 total bases. When playing in more than 100 games, those numbers either set career-highs or tied his career-high. The 33-year-old has hit 15 or more homers in every season since 2009 and has hit 21 or more homers in three of those seasons.
He plays right field, first base and can obviously DH. The Yankees will be in much better shape this season if Mark Teixeira has a injury or needs a day off because Jones is a legitimate first baseman as he made 122 starts at first in 2014. Last season, as a result of Teixeira playing in 123 games and the team not having a back-up first baseman, Joe Girardi was forced to play Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Cervelli at the position. None of those players had played first base in their career.
He will also be a back-up right fielder. The starters in the outfield will be Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Beltran. The Yankees need Beltran to stay healthy, but Jones’s versatility in the outfield will be valuable as well because the 37-year-old Beltran will need many days off and could have some minor injuries as a result of his age and offseason surgery. Jones started 25 games in right in 2013 and started 58 games in right in 2012 with only five errors combined, which proves that he can be relied on when Beltran is not in the lineup.
Jones will also be used as the designated hitter on days when Alex Rodriguez is not the DH. It could make sense it A-Rod and Jones platoon at DH because Jones is a lefty and could excel at Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right, and A-Rod likely is not ready for full-time DH duty after missing all of last season and previously having surgery on both of his hips.
During Thursday’s spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jones hit an RBI double to help the Yankees get a 2-1 win. Stats and wins don’t really matter this early in the exhibition season, but it is a good sign that Jones was able to get an extra-base hit on March 5.
If the Yankees can get about 20 homers out of Jones and 15 homers from Rodriguez then they both would have had very productive seasons. Jones really gives the Yankees a player that they were missing last season because he has power and the ability to play multiple positions. It will be key for him to have a fast transition to playing with the Yankees because they really don’t know what they will get from A-Rod this season.