New York Yankees Position Breakdown: Third Base
Yesterday I wrote that shortstop might be the hardest position for the New York Yankees to fill this off season, but third base might be their hardest plan. Alex Rodriguez is slated to continue his appeal for the 211-game suspension handed down by Major league Baseball back in August, and assuming the process wraps up this week, the Yankees should know by Thanksgiving whether or not they need to find a new third baseman in 2014.
For the Yankees, it could be against them to not have a decision by nearly December, but the likeliness is that they already feel they’ll be without A-Rod for at least next season.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman went on the radio Sunday to say that A-Rod is irreplaceable at third base for the Yankees, and that he is “by far the best option” at third base. In some ways that’s true, in others, they can find a better man for the job.
After making his season debut on August 5th after offseason hip surgery — which if you haven’t heard, his hip has been at the center of a lawsuit against Yankees’ team doctor, Dr. Chris Ahmad, for falsely diagnosing this injury during the playoffs last October — played above expectations for a man coming off his second hip surgery. In 44 games, his hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs.
When he first came back, he was greeted with boos nearly everywhere he went, including Yankee Stadium — but the Bronx boos soon became actual cheers when A-Rod started hitting home runs for the Yankees.
The pending A-Rod decision will effect the Yankees in more ways than one. For starters, should he be suspended for the entire 2014 season, the Yankees will save nearly $30 on their payroll, which they are trying to get under $189 million. Without A-Rod on the books, that goal becomes a lot more reachable.
Then there’s the obvious way he’ll effect the Yankees: on the field. The market for third baseman this winter is expected to be extremely thin, unless the San Diego Padres decide that they are willing to trade away Chase Headley, there won’t be many good candidate to fill in for A-Rod — and that almost makes Cashman’s statement about A-Rod being the best option true.
As of now, it would seem that the best option for the Yankees could be the re-signing of Mark Reynolds, who the team signed in August 15th after he was released by the Cleveland Indians a week earlier.
With Reynolds, you pretty much know what you’re going to get from him — a lot of strikeouts, but also a lot of power. It also works in his favor that in his short time with the team, he didn’t look too bad at third base. Compared to the aging A-Rod, he’s better defensively. Reynolds can also play first base, which would give the Yankees a good back-up for Mark Teixeira.
The Yankees experimented with Eduardo Nunez at third base in 2013 — although that was never a move I really liked — I suppose the Yankees could keep him in mind at third base as an in-house option, but I wouldn’t count on that too much.
My gut feeling is that A-Rod going to miss a least 50-games in 2014, maybe 100 at the most, meaning that the Yankees will have to sign a reliable option to fill A-Rod’s spot in the lineup while he’s out, and I think that it’ll have to be Reynolds. Yes, he may not put the ball in play a lot, but when he does, it has a chance to go a long way out of the park.
If you think that there is a better option for the Yankees at third base, let me know on Twitter, @GavinEwbank2013. While you’re at it, give me your thoughts on tomorrow’s position break down: the outfield.