So What's The Deal With Garrett Jones?

Jones vs COL 2014 I mean honestly, what's the deal with this guy?  He's a right fielder who can't play right field, he's a first baseman who can't play first base.  What's up with that?  He's got no first names and 2 last names.  He doesn't know who he is or what he's doing.  I don't get it.

That's funnier if you read it in Jerry Seinfeld's voice in your head, but in all seriousness, I am somewhat intrigued by Garrett Jones' presence on the roster and what his eventual role on this team might become.  A commenter in the ZiPS post pointed out that ZiPS was actually pretty high on him, something I completely glossed over when I first read through the projection numbers, and there's some truth to that.  ZiPS doesn't see much in the way of average or OBP for Jones, but it does project a healthy .449 SLG and 21 home runs.

That kind of production would be very welcome from the DH spot, the most likely lineup destination for Jones and one of the areas of biggest offensive weakness for the Yankees over the last 2 seasons.  ZiPS' numbers for Jones were based on a 471-plate appearance sample, which he likely won't approach as a platoon DH, but that slugging percentage and a .209 ISO would still be plenty of thump in the role.  Scale the PA down to reflect a part-time role and you get something like what Steamer is projecting: .250/.311/.448, 14 HR, .198 ISO in 342 PA.

It's also worth noting that Jones won't have nearly the number of chances to negatively effect games with his poor defense as a part-time DH.  I can't see Joe using him in right field unless he absolutely has to with Chris Young around.  Jones is much more likely to assume the backup first base spot, the position at which he's been better the last few years according to defensive metrics.  If he's only playing there once a week, he shouldn't be as big a defensive liability as he was playing every day in 2014.  A better defensive rating and an increase power output hitting in YS3 could make Jones a 1+ WAR player.

Of course, there's also the chance that Jones has already started to spoil as he enters his mid-30s.  His K and BB rates haven't changed much, but his power has dipped significantly over the last 2 seasons.  He may be starting to lose the strength and bat speed that he's going to need to generate a .200+ ISO, and there's no way he's suddenly going to turn into a plus defender at age 33.  If Carlos Beltran or Mark Teixeira go down with injuries (and the odds of that happening are somewhere between "good" and "very good"), Jones could get pressed into everyday duty like he was last year.  That wouldn't be good for him or the team.

He was basically the throw-in piece of the 5-player trade with the Marlins, but Jones could become a useful short-term player for the Yankees this season.  In limited PA against right-handed pitching, Jones' power should see a spike.  Limiting those PA to the DH spot should help mask his bad defense, which will help Jones' individual value and presumably the team's defensive performance.  That could all go away if injuries force him into everyday position player duty though, and Jones could end up being another replacement-level 30-something who hit the wrong side of the regression curve right after the Yankees acquired him.  The range of possibilities is a wide one with Garrett Jones in 2015, and if nothing else I'm curious to see where he settles in as a roster piece and how he produces in that role.