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Sunday, December 9, 2012

WHAT IF THE YANKEES FAIL TO SIGN KEVIN YOUKILIS?

The Yankees left the 2012 Winter Meetings with more questions than they did when they arrived. Other than missing out on potential free agent targets, the only newsworthy item during the meetings was that Alex Rodriguez would require left hip surgery, thus giving the Yankees yet another hole to fill. The team has reacted by reportedly offering Kevin Youkilis a one-year, $12 million contract. However, the Cleveland Indians have reportedly offered Youkilis a two-year, $18 million deal. So, the question is: What will the Yankees do if they don’t sign Youkilis?
Before the Yankees had to turn to the Kevin Youkilis option, I felt they had a good chance at plugging the third base hole by signing Jeff Keppinger (who has now recently signed with the White Sox for three-years and $12 million) and re-signing Eric Chavez (who instead signed a one-year $3 million contract with the Diamondbacks). The Yankees would then have a pretty formidable third base platoon, but of course now that won’t happen, so they turn their focus to Youkilis.

Kevin Youkilis will turn 34 before Opening Day, and he’s coming off one of his worst seasons in his career. He posted a career-worst slash line of .235/.336/.409 in 122 games with 19 homers and 60 RBI with the Red Sox and White Sox. The average and on-base percentage are the lowest marks of his career, while the slugging percentage was the second-worst mark of his career since becoming a regular in 2006. This could be just a blip on the radar, or a start of a downfall for him, but with the other third base alternatives in mind, it might be worth the risk to sign him anyway.
(In Photo: Jack Hannahan)
Who are the third base alternatives after Kevin Youkilis, you ask? Well, there’s Jack Hannahan. Reportedly, the Yankees were interested in Hannahan, according to Jon Morosi (HERE), but now word on the street is that an “MLB source” suggests that Hannahan will sign with the Reds (read HERE). Either way, I won’t lose sleep if the Yanks miss out on Hannahan. He’s a good glove, but the bat is left to be desired, and we need bats at the moment.
Along with Hannahan, the Yanks have also been linked to Mark Reynolds, as they’ve visited with his agent, according to Bryan Hoch (HERE). Reynolds is far from an ideal candidate since he’s near the top in strikeouts every year, and he was so bad defensively at third, the Orioles made him move over to first during the season. However, the upside is very good. We saw first-hand late in the season, that when Reynolds’ bat is hot, he is one of the toughest outs in the game.
(In photo: Asdrubal Cabrera)
The rest of the free agent crop is pretty weak (HERE, take a look for yourself), so the Yankees could explore a trade if they miss out on Youkilis and if they miss out on/don’t want Hannahan and Reynolds. They could trade for Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians, who of course is a shortstop and would need to move to third. In fact, there reportedly was a team that had a deal in place with Cleveland to land Cabrera. That deal would’ve included “one big-league pitcher and two high-level prospects.” The team acquiring Cabrera would then have moved him to shortstop. However, the deal fell through because Cleveland wanted an extra high-end prospect as well, according to the Plain Dealer (HERE).

Could that have been the Yankees that were involved in that scenario? Maybe, maybe not. If it was, maybe the two clubs could revisit talks if the Yanks are still searching for a solution at third, but it will most likely come at a hefty price. The point is, like it or not, signing Kevin Youkilis is the best option right now, and if they don’t do so, they’ll continue having trouble filling the vacancy at third. 



--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse


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