Who Will Replace Derek Jeter as New York Yankees Shortstop?
That's the year Derek Jeter's contract is up with the New York Yankees. After that season, Jeter can presumably, and likely will, walk away from the game of baseball. He has a player option for the 2014 season which will likely be picked up, but after that, who knows what'll happen.
Of course, Jeter could very well get another contract from the Yankees or, Babe Ruth forbid, sign elsewhere. For the purpose of this article we're assuming that Jeter, at the age of 40, will no longer be with the Yankees.
That means the Yankees will have the daunting task of replacing an icon, a hero, a legend. They need to replace the guy who played shortstop for them for 20 years.
The Yankees can look to free agency, trades, overseas, or internally with their farm system to replace Jeter. I'm here to list the chances that the 10 best potential replacements have of being the next shortstop for the New York Yankees.
While no Yankee fan is ready to imagine that day yet, we're jumping into the DeLorean for this one and heading to 2014.
Odds: 15 percent chance
Might as well get this guy out of the way.
Troy Tulowitzki is probably the most polished, publicized and well-rounded of the players on this list. However, there is a slight problem: He can't seem to stay off the disabled list. He's easily one of the best shortstops — if not the best — if he just stays healthy.
Tulowitzki has the power, glove, speed and leadership skills to be a franchise player. He idolizes Derek Jeter and would be the ideal replacement for him. He'd be 29 in 2014 and would still have lots of good years ahead of him.
There is the matter of his contract, however. After 2014, Tulowitzki makes $20 million per year until the 2020 season, when he'll make $14 million. I'm not sure if the Yankees are willing to add that contract to their payroll.
The Yankees want to cut payroll by the 2014 season. It is known. They have other $20 million-plus contracts to worry about. Not to mention the Yankees would have to trade for him and likely give up a good amount to get him.
The Colorado Rockies seem bent on making him the face of their franchise. His contract is the only reason that might make the Rockies consider trading him. With the size of his contract and his health issues, the Yankees aren't going to trade for him unless they can get rid of one of their other massive contracts first.
However, there's always the chance of George Steinbrenner's spirit coming back and haunting his sons into not caring about payroll.
Odds: 20 percent
Here's another guy Yankee fans will want to see in pinstripes one day. It's unlikely the Texas Rangers will let Elvis Andrus go, though.
Andrus has the speed and glove to be the next shortstop of the New York Yankees. His bat isn't too bad either; he just doesn't have any power. He's also an on-base machine, making him an ideal replacement for Derek Jeter at the top of the lineup as well.
He's the prototypical leadoff hitter and would be an excellent addition to the Yankees' lineup. Andrus would be 25 years old and entering his prime. If the Yankees obtain him by then, they'd be getting his best years.
The Texas Rangers would love to have him in his prime as well. His contract ends after the 2014 season and he could be looking for big money. As everyone knows, the Yankees have the money to throw around.
Presumably, the Yankees would've trimmed their payroll down to their desired amount and be willing to pay Andrus the money he wants. Of course, it's more likely that the Yankees look for a cheaper option.
Odds: 20 percent
Ramiro Pena isn't suited to be an everyday shortstop. He's better as a backup and a utility infielder. Pena plays the shortstop position well enough and his bat isn't abysmal. He also has decent enough speed.
If the Yankees are looking for a cheap option, Pena is a good bet. He isn't going to be demanding Alex Rodriguez money unless he miraculously starts mashing out homers. But with Pena, the Yankees are going to suffer a dropoff at the shortstop position.
I don't see the Yankees making Pena their shortstop of the future. But his odds are better than Tulowitzki's, because he's from their farm system and would be a much cheaper option.
Odds: 25 percent
No picture here, instead here's a stand-in of the guy Bryan Cuevas hopes to replace.
Bryan Cuevas is a very young, very raw prospect who's turning heads in the minors and could very well end up being Derek Jeter's replacement. While younger than some of his counterparts, he has the chance to develop into a pretty good player.
Of course, it's a little too early to see if he'll develop into a star player, but he should be a solid shortstop at best.
Cuevas is currently batting .316/.349/.469 with three home runs, 40 runs and 37 RBI. He's also tied for second in doubles on the Dominican Summer League Yankees 2. He could easily develop more power as he gets older and gains more experience playing.
Yankee fans should keep an eye on him to see how he turns out. He could be in the majors sooner than some think.
Odds: 25 percent
Jose Pirela is making some noise in the minors right now with his bat. This is his first season where he's spending a lot of time at positions other than shortstop. In fact, he hasn't played a game at shortstop so far this season.
Now it remains to be seen if the Yankees are going to keep it that way. However, they could very well move him back to shortstop, since that's where he's spent most of his career. As of right now, Pirela doesn't really have a position as he's played second base, third base and the outfield.
His errors have decreased with his move from shortstop, so it's likely that he won't be returning to that position. Of course, the Yankees have lots of other players who are at the positions Pirela is playing.
Pirela is young and still has lots of time to develop. He's best suited to be a utility player until he can prove he can play a position. Of course, it's even more likely that he'll be used as trade bait.
Odds: 28 percent
Jhonny Peralta has a team option for the 2013 season and the Yankees could sign him then for a reasonable price. Peralta isn't good enough to get Troy Tulowitzki-type money, but he's not playing for backup money either.
Peralta is a solid defender and has good power for a shortstop. He's hit over 20 homers four times before and can routinely get into double digits in his home run total. He'd be able to provide some protection in the Yankees lineup with his power.
He'd be 32 during the 2014 season, meaning if the Yankees sign him, it'll likely be short-term. He's young enough to not experience a huge dropoff in production, but he's old enough to be playing at his current level for only a few more years.
With Peralta, the Yankees need to decide if they want his veteran presence to hold the position until one of their younger prospects develop. At a reasonable price, the Yankees would do well in considering him.
Odds: 30 percent
Chris Tamarez, like Bryan Cuevas, is a Dominican born player who's still a little young to be called the next Derek Jeter. This season, however, Tamarez is doing his best Jeter impression at the plate.
Batting .344/.400/.513 with six home runs, 35 RBI and 41 runs, Tamarez is showing he has the bat to be the next Derek Jeter. He's also a superb athlete, which allows him to handle the shortstop position pretty well.
His young age and lack of experience makes him a little error prone, however. Time should help him develop into a solid shortstop. He has the athleticism to excel at the position, we just have to wait and see if he develops.
Tamarez will be 20 when Jeter's contract is up. That's still a little young, but if he continues to improve and has the bat, he'll be in the majors playing shortstop by then.
Odds: 30 percent
Cito Culver is a 19-year-old shortstop who's been in the Yankees' farm system since he was 17. Over the years, he's slowly started to show why the Yankees took him with their first pick, but he has had a setback this year.
He's batting .219/.324/.288 with two homers and 39 RBI at Single-A ball. Needless to say, his bat still needs a lot of development. Culver doesn't have a fluid swing which might explain the low average.
He does, however, have good plate coverage and recognition. That'll explain the 105-point gap between his average and on-base percentage. With his eye at the plate, his swing should be able to improve as he gains experience.
Fixing a swing is much easier than training a player to recognize bad pitches and to not swing at them.
Defense-wise, Culver's glove has improved drastically. He has good range, which is supplemented by his excellent speed. With a little more seasoning in the minors, Culver could replace Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Whether or not he'll be ready by 2014 remains to be seen.
Odds: 33 percent
The Yankees viewed and could still possibly view Eduardo Nunez as the replacement to Derek Jeter. Nunez was considered untouchable for the Yankees. His bat, arm and speed make him more likely that Ramiro Pena to take over the shortstop position.
Unlike Pena and Elvis Andrus, Nunez has shown power and has the potential to develop even more as he enters his prime. Nunez also has a strong enough arm to play shortstop and the Yankees value that highly.
However, Nunez still has problems fielding the ball. Despite his arm, the other aspects of his defensive skills need a fair amount of work if he's to replace Jeter. He seems lazy when fielding the ball despite his speed and arm indicating that he could be better.
Despite that, Nunez would be a cheap option for the Yankees. In fact, I could see him holding the spot until the Yankees find a better option either through free agency or waiting on one of their younger prospects to develop.
Odds: 40 percent
Asdrubal Cabrera has the highest odds of anyone on the list and for good reason. The Cleveland Indians probably won't be able to afford him after his contract runs out. The Yankees could give him the money he wants if they decide to spend it on him.
He was once known as a solid contact hitter who could play excellent defense. Last season changed that, however. With his 25 homers in 2011, Cabrera has shown that he has power. Double-digit homers are to be expected of him should he join the Yankees.
Cabrera's average has suffered since his 2009 season, but his on-base percentage has risen. His approach at the plate fits with the Yankees. Unlike some of the current Yankee players, he isn't strikeout prone. He's only struckout over 100 times once.
Everyone knows about Cabrera's dazzling defense. Despite Derek Jeter winning all of those Gold Gloves, many have criticized his defensive skills and range. With Cabrera, there'll be none of that.
The Yankees would have an excellent defender as well as an excellent hitter. That's the best the Yankees can ask for when replacing Jeter. It'll be a hard task, but a player of Cabrera's mold and caliber should make it easier. The only trouble here is the price and if the Indians end up trading him before he hits free agency.