Russ Canzler: Unnecessary for Yankees or a Helping Hand in Disguise?


Well, the New York Yankees got a right-handed hitting outfielder, but was it the right guy?

The 26-year-old Russ Canzler has been somewhat of a journeyman throughout his short MLB career so far. Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2004, Canzler would make his debut in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2012, Cleveland is where Canzler would call home until the offseason. Originally, Canzler was claimed off of waivers by the Blue Jays in December, then reacquired by the Indians, then finally acquired by the Yankees. Geez, you’ve gotta feel a little sorry for the guy. Regardless, is Canzler going to be someone who in 2013 will make a significant impact with the Bronx Bombers? 

Is Russ Canzler the Bronx Bombers’ right-handed answer? (Image: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

For Canzler, one has to wonder if his job security with the Yankees is an assured thing. When the Yankees signed Matt Diaz, they made it clear that they had no intention to get out of the market just yet. Well, now with Canzler involved, is there going to be a competition between the two? I’m not so sure, especially when you compare their careers, Canzler has only played in 29 games (three with the Rays) whereas Diaz has played in 726.

Now, this article isn’t going to be a compare and contrast article on Canzler and Diaz. We know who Diaz is, why the Yankees signed him and why clearly he isn’t enough for the Yankees. What we don’t know is what Canzler can do for a team. In his short career, Canzler has looked decent at the plate and if his short time with the Indians in 2012 was indicative of how he’d do in the future, then Yankees’ fans might be in for a possible treat.

Looking at his small sample of a slash line, Canzler has put up a .271/.304/.396 for his career. More specifically in 2012 with Cleveland, Canzler had .269 batting average, but surprisingly had a high .324 BABIP. However, all of Canzler’s stats in 2012 came in only 26 games, so his numbers are a little harder to judge. He also hit three homers, drove in 11 runs and scored nine runs. His strikeout percentage was a tad concerning at 22.7 percent considering his walk percent was only 4.1, but yet again, this was only in the span of 26 games.

It’s hard to judge where exactly Canzler stands in the thick of things. Looking at the Yankees’ minor league options, only Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte (both of whom are on the 40-man roster like Canzler and unlike Diaz), present the only threats of stealing a spot away from Canzler as they both are right-handed hitters. With Chris Dickerson being designated for assignment, Canzler looks to be that back-up option possibly for the 25-man roster come Opening Day if the Yankees are unable to sign someone else.

With the way the Yankees have treated this offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Canzler  on the 25-man roster come the end of March. The Yankees have been sucked bone dry in the free-agent market and really have nobody but themselves to look at. Now there is the luxury tax they are trying their best to avoid, and in the same regard, it affects the team in a lot of ways. Avoiding the tax means they can’t go out and sign the big name X,Y, and Z free-agents to fill in the shoes of a player for a year. They have to start anew and maybe signing guys like Canzler proves that. Then again, who knows if Canzler is going to last with this team?

Going forward with Canzler might not be something set in stone, especially with the rise of the speedy Mesa, but he’s a good plug-in option. Sure, Canzler may not be the second coming of the Bambino, but for the time being, he may just help the Yankees get over the hump. Who knows, maybe Canzler will have a Mike Trouttype year in 2013. Anything is possible in baseball.