DH Jobs Becoming Scarce

The signing of Nick Johnson by the Yankees is a good move for New York, for all the reasons Jack talked about this morning. But, for players like Russ Branyan, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero, it is bad news indeed.

As Brian Cashman noted earlier in the off-season, he ran into a designated hitter looking for a job no matter where he turned. The market is saturated with good hitters who can’t play the field, and unfortunately for them, the National League doesn’t use a DH. So, their options are limited to AL teams who don’t already have a designated hitter in the fold.

The Yankees were a potential landing spot for DH types, especially left-handed ones looking to exploit the right field wall in New Yankee Stadium. However, New York signed a first baseman to take that spot, decreasing the supply of available jobs for defensively challenged players without taking any DH types off the market.

Johnson’s signing, along with Matsui’s deal in LA, also sets something of a price ceiling for guys with limited defensive value. That Johnson and Matsui were not able to get more than $6 million as the best of the bunch in this player type limits the bargaining power that the lesser players have. Not only are the jobs diminishing quickly, but they’re going to have to take $2 to $4 million in order to land one.

There aren’t many DH jobs left available. If I was the agent for any of the aging sluggers with no defensive value, I’d be trying everything I could to land a job in Baltimore or Texas as quickly as possible. This game of musical chairs is going to leave several good hitters standing around, trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives after baseball.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

14 Responses to “DH Jobs Becoming Scarce”

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  1. As a Cubs fan, it pains me to point out that this makes trading Milton Bradley only more difficult.

    By the way, you may want to edit your last sentence. I’m guessing you meant “lives after baseball,” not “loves after baseball.” Freudian slip?

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  2. discogerbil says:

    I’m sure some NL teams would be willing to take on a guy like Giambi and Thome to be pinch hitters for 2 mil. and they could be affective bench bats. Granted neither one could play 1B full time if they had to, but they could do it in a pinch (Giambi played a few times for Helton in Colorado). It’s not a good way to make money, but how long was Stairs playing in Philly as a left handed power pinch hitter for late innings use?

    For me 2 million to come in and take one or two at bats in the 7th, 8th, 9th innings (if the guy could play 1B for an inning or two) would be much better than retirement.

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  3. Kampfer says:

    Although Yanks signing of Johnson is a good move, Thome seems to be the best fit for Yanks stadium.

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    • Zonis says:

      But can Thome turn into a girl? Or pull guns out of nowhere? Or wield deadly swords? I don’t thinkso, but Kampfer-Matsui can!

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  4. Shane says:

    Unless the Sox deal with Texas for Lowell goes through, and then there are even less options

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  5. Pete says:

    Maybe some of them should think about becoming pinch hitters in the National League. While he was forced into the role, it worked for Jason Giambi on the Rockies.

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  6. neuter_your_dogma says:

    “have to take 2-4M?” Still a nice gig if you can land it.

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  7. paris7 says:

    There’s been lots of recent disappointment in Oakland that the As non-tendered Jack Cust, and this will perhaps bring some hope that he can indeed be resigned, but at a cost that is less than what arb would have netted him.

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  8. Louis Falcon says:

    It’s about time someone exposed the big banks and Wall Street for the manipulating fraudsters that they are. In an insider’s club report a veteran trader exposed the banks and showed why Wall Street never fights fair (and neither we should).

    GC report — Now I could understand why we never get out from under our banker’s thumb..

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