To make room for newly-acquired slugger Travis Hafner, the Yankees designated outfielder Russ Canzler for assignment. Canzler is no stranger to being DFA’d. After spending last season with the Cleveland Indians, Canzler was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays in December, reclaimed by the Tribe in January, and finally claimed by the Yankees two weeks after that. Now he is on the loose again and maybe it’s time for the Mets to jump in and see what all the fuss is about.
Canzler is no difference maker, so lets get that out of the way. But considering the dilapidated state of the current Mets outfield, beggars can’t be choosy, and this particular player does have some merits.
The first few things that jump out at you from a Mets-need standpoint is that he bats righthanded, has power, and plays the outfield.
Canzler, 26, was quite the popular player in 2011 when he was named the International League MVP after batting .314/.401/.540 with 18 homers and 83 RBI for the Triple-A Durham Bulls in the Tampa Bay Rays system. His 40 doubles and .938 OPS in 474 at-bats were very difficult to ignore. He made his major league debut during a brief September call-up, finishing the season 1-3 with an RBI single and a walk. But in January of 2012, the Indians purchased Canzler from the Rays for some dead presidents, thus ending his tenure with Tampa Bay.
He followed up his International League MVP campaign by batting .265/.329/.487 for Triple-A Columbus in 487 at-bats with 22 home runs, 36 doubles and 78 RBIs. His average and OBP took a hit, but his power numbers were still there and his .815 OPS was still very respectable.
Canzler got some sparse playing time with the Indians as well last season where he batted .269 with three doubles and three homers in 27 games. Nothing earth shattering at first glance, but then I checked his splits and discovered that he torched lefthanded pitchers at a .393/.414/.679 clip… this was when he piqued my interest. A little more research showed that Canzler has been killing southpaws throughout his entire pro career.
Defensively, he’s played mostly first base in the minors although he had over 100 games played in left field. But take my word for it, he’s not know for his glove, and where left field for the Mets is concerned it shouldn’t be a big issue anyway… You can only go up from Lucas Duda.
This kid can wallop a baseball probably harder than anyone we have from the right side of the plate right now. What makes him most appealing is the price – just a simple claim and that’s all it would take.
How well Canzler will do with extended play in the majors is difficult to say, he’s really untested. But it won’t cost that much to find out. Hey look, the Yankees were all set to proclaim Canzler the replacement for Nick Swisher before they signed Hafner, they must have seen something in him.
I say lets take a shot…