Yankees linked to veteran utility man in free agency

mlb: detroit tigers at oakland athletics, tony kemp, yankees
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As spring training looms, the New York Yankees, under the guidance of General Manager Brian Cashman, are meticulously scanning the free agent market to finalize their roster.

Their latest interest appears to be directed towards Tony Kemp, a utility player with a rich history at both the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros, via Robert Murray of FanSided.

Kemp, at 32, is in pursuit of a fresh start, and the Yankees might offer just that. His consistent gameplay, demonstrated by playing over 124 games in each of the last three seasons, underscores his reliability and potential value to the Yankees.

Evaluating Kemp’s Versatility and Potential Impact

Over 419 plate appearances in 2023, Kemp hit .209/.303/.304, including five homers, 27 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. He also hosted a 10.5% walk rate, a 9.5% strikeout rate, and 77 wRC+. While he’s been a below-average hitter for two straight seasons, his strikeout rate is low, and he manages to walk at a double-digit clip most seasons.

Kemp’s last above-average offensive year came back in 2022 with the Athletics. He hit .279/.382/.418, including eight homers and 37 RBIs, with a 128 wRC+. Kemp ranks in the 97th percentile in whiff rate and 100th percentile in strikeout rate, showcasing his veteran eye.

However, he’s also compatible at several defensive spots, including second base and all three outfield positions. He played 456 innings in the outfield last year, hosting a .972 fielding percentage with -3 defensive runs saved and -1 out above average. He also played 410 innings at second base, posting a .980 percentage.

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Kemp’s Role and the Yankees’ Strategy

As the Yankees gear up for the upcoming season, Tony Kemp emerges as a potential strategic addition. His veteran presence and capability to fill various roles could provide the team with depth and flexibility, reminiscent of Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s contributions.

While Kemp may not be the first choice, his experience and utility make him a viable candidate to enhance the Yankees’ bench strength.

As Cashman and the Yankees fine-tune their roster, Kemp’s inclusion will support more competition during spring training in a few weeks.