Nate McLouth free agency: Yankees interested in OF

Rob Carr

McLouth could fit a role as a cheap platoon partner in the outfield in someone like Carlos Beltran proves too expensive.

Fresh off signing Brian McCann to a big contract, the New York Yankees are interested in Nate McLouth to help in the outfield, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. McLouth played with the division-rival Baltimore Orioles in 2013. In his first full season since 2009, he hit .258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs.

A lefty at the plate, McLouth could fit into the Yankees outfield as a platoon mate for Alfonso Soriano or Ichiro Suzuki. McLouth has a career 748 OPS against right-handed pitching compared to just a 648 OPS against lefties. Despite batting from the same side of the plate as McLouth, Ichiro was 163 points of OPS better against left-handed pitchers than righties. Soriano also hits much better against southpaws, though he has been competent against right handers.

Those platoon splits could make McLouth a cheaper option to improve the Yankee outfield with the team likely losing Curtis Granderson to free agency. The Yankees have also been heavily interested in Carlos Beltran, but with him being a popular name on the market, he may end up receiving a bigger contract than New York would be prepared to give.

Along with the $85 million the team will pay to McCann, the Yankees also want to re-sign Robinson Cano and Hiroki Kuroda. If a new posting agreement is sorted out and Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is available, New York plans to bid heavily for his services, as well. With the stated goal of staying under $189 million in 2013 to avoid the luxury tax, the Yankees may look to someone like McClouth to keep costs low.

The Yankees also have Vernon Wells on their squad. With the designated hitter spot needing to be filled, they could certainly fit in playing time for five outfielders, however.

McLouth, 31, made just $2 million with the Orioles last season. While he may be in for a raise after a nice year, he does not figure to receive too much more per year. After signing McCann, the Yankees will likely have somewhere around $50 million to spend if they want to keep under $189 million.

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