Before the announcement that Alex Rodriguez would–again–need hip surgery to repair a torn labrum, the Yankees’ roster situation was dire enough. Perhaps “dire” is overselling it a bit, but going into yesterday, the Yankees were without a legitimate catcher, right fielder, and designated hitter. Now, they find themselves without a wholly viable third baseman. With A-Rod’s absence looming, the Yankees will have to patch up the hot corner for an extended period of time.
Internally, they’ve got options, even if they’re not great. First on the list would be Eduardo Nunez by default. Though the team is committed to him at shortstop, he’s seen a good deal of time at third. Brian Cashman seemed to dispel the idea on Monday, but I don’t think it’s possible to rule it out completely. The organization does see something in him, even if I don’t. He’s been able to hit for an empty average (though he’s been better against lefty pitching). As for his defense, well…The other option, however much a long shot, could be David Adams. Adams, on whom I’m higher than most, has shown an ability to hit in the minors (career .825 OPS), but he’s not yet reached AAA , is often injured, and just moved to third base during the latter part of the 2012 season.
Externally, I see three main options. Each guy has at least one positive and at least one negative. I should clarify that by “externally” I mean free agency. Anyway, the three are Eric Chavez, Kevin Youkilis, and Mark Reynolds. Chavez’s best trait is his reliability. By that, I mean you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to play solid defense and be a decent bat at the plate. However, that reliability is a double-edged sword because you also know what you’re not going to get from him, and that’s health and a lot of plate appearances. Replacing A-Rod with Chavez full time is simply replacing an injured player with another, and that’s not desirable. That also brings us to Kevin Youkilis. His main drawback is also health; he hasn’t played in more than 125 games since 2009. Youk’s defense is also a bit suspect and it would be weird to root for him after a long campaign of unadulterated loathing against him. Still, when he’s on the field, Youk produces and maybe he’ll come at a bit of a discount after a down year in 2012. And while this may be a bit overrated, but Youk’s shown the ability to do it in the A.L. East; he knows the territory and is used to the intense play of the ever difficult division. After his stint with Baltimore in 2012, the same can be said for Reynolds. He and his prodigious power were tested by the A.L. East in 2012 and Reynolds showed he can hack it. Of course with him, “hack it” takes on a double-meaning. However, he does balance it out with walks (11.85 career walk rate) and the aforementioned power (16.43 AB/HR & .240 Iso). The biggest concern I’d have, though, wouldn’t be the whole in his bat, but the one in his glove at third. Reynolds has the reputation of a butcher over there and that could hurt.
The more and more I think about it, my mind keeps going to Youkilis. While he’s far from a perfect choice for this role, he’s the most well-rounded of the options. And while that might lead to a logjam when A-Rod returns, their collective spotty health records will make it easy for the Yankees to rotate them at 3B/DH/off. The Yankees are sorely in need of quality right handed hitting and Youkilis could help them bridge the gap until Rodriguez gets back. I’ve got no idea what his price-tag will be, but he’s best worth the shot.
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