Baltimore Orioles: Could Kevin Youkilis Be the Answer at Third?

Corey HanleyContributor IIIMay 16, 2012

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 09:  Infielder Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox cannot come up with this ground ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at JetBlue Park on March 9, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Orioles currently have a dilemma. Mark Reynolds is their regular third baseman, and his defense—which he claims to have worked on—is just as bad as ever.

Reynolds has started 15 games at third base this season and has six errors. His fielding percentage is just .850.

Before an injury sent Mark Reynolds to the DL, he was mostly starting at first base or DH-ing with the equally poor-fielding Wilson Betemit at the hot corner.

The Orioles need to improve their defense at third, and they don't have any options on the current roster with the ability to also hit. They should look outside the organization for a replacement.

The Boston Red Sox are facing a dilemma, as well. Their starter at third, Kevin Youkilis, also got hurt, opening the door for their top prospect, Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks came in and immediately started hitting, something that Youkilis struggled with before his injury.

With Youkilis set to return from the DL, someone must go, because Middlebrooks needs consistent playing time to develop properly, and Youkilis' $12 million contract is too much for a bench player.

That sets the table for a terrific trade opportunity, albeit within the division. The Orioles would gain one of the most patient hitters in baseball in Youkilis and a pretty solid defensive third baseman.

They could also occasionally use him at first, where his defense is Gold Glove caliber. His presence in the lineup could also dramatically improve the offense, as they need more players with high OBPs.

In exchange, the Orioles should give up a bullpen arm. Boston's bullpen is horrendous and the Orioles have a surplus of quality arms. One interesting option could be Brad Bergesen, who was recently designated for assignment.

If paired with another minor league arm, the Red Sox might be willing to deal.

The question that comes up is: What to do with Reynolds? He and Youkilis could probably not coexist. Hopefully, they could trade him to another team, but that may not be an option. His salary this year is $7.5 million, so a release is out of the question.