5 Reasons Kevin Youkilis Would Be Perfect Fit for the New York Yankees
While it's true that the New York Yankees need to get younger, they also need capable players on their 25-man roster that can contribute both with the bat and the glove.
Enter Kevin Youkilis, who celebrates his 34th birthday at the end of March.
Youkilis, a career .286 hitter, isn't the All-Star that he used to be while getting under the skin of the Bronx Bombers and their faithful during the more than eight years that he spent with the Boston Red Sox, but he's still a capable player who fits what the Yankees need this offseason like a glove.
Here are five reasons Youk makes perfect sense for the Yankees to bring on-board for the 2013 season.
He Can Spell Alex Rodriguez at Third Base
Alex Rodriguez can't play the field everyday—that much is clear—and the Yankees need a capable backup.
Eric Chavez, who has backed A-Rod up in each of the past two seasons, is no lock to return due to his nagging back issues, as he told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
"(Getting ready for games is) a huge hurdle to climb physically.
Once I get to the park, I’m constantly going until the end of the game. If I sit down for 15 to 20 minutes, it takes me that much longer (to get loose again).
It’s non-stop. You’ll never see me in the dugout for more than one inning. I’ve got to keep moving. I’ll go to the cage, keep the blood going as much as I can."
Youkilis is still a quality defensive third baseman, though you might think otherwise by looking at his .964 fielding percentage.
But that number is superior to A-Rod's .957, and Youk committed only one more error than A-Rod did in 64 more chances.
He Can Spell Mark Teixera at First Base
There's no replacing a Gold Glove like Mark Teixiera at first base, but Tex needs a day off every now and again.
With Nick Swisher expected to depart via free agency, the Yankees don't have a capable backup for Tex on the roster.
Youkilis is an outstanding defensive first baseman, with a career fielding percentage of .997, and while he didn't spend much time at the position in 2012, logging only 125.1 innings of work between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, he turned nine double plays and did not commit an error.
One Half of a DH Platoon with Raul Ibanez
While playoff hero Raul Ibanez is a free agent, I'd be shocked if he wound up playing somewhere besides the Bronx in 2013, serving as a capable fourth outfielder and as part of a platoon at designated hitter.
Ibanez and his lefty bat are solid against right-handed pitching but not an ideal option against southpaws, going 12-for-61 (.197) against them in 2012 with no home runs and five RBI.
Youkilis, a righty, struggles against right-handers but does very well against left-handers, posting a .275/.386/.492 hitting line in 2012 and a career line of .298/,417/.511 against southpaws.
An Ibanez/Youkilis platoon at designated hitter would be incredibly productive for the Yankees in 2012.
A Short-Term Investment
Yankees GM Brian Cashman is working under the edict issued by owner Hal Steinbrenner earlier this season that the team get under the $189 luxury tax threshold that kicks in with the 2014 season.
In order for that to happen, the Yankees need to avoid dishing out lucrative, long-term deals to players, especially with extensions for 2B Robinson Cano, SS Derek Jeter and possibly CF Curtis Granderson yet to be worked out.
Youkilis, who earned $12.25 million in 2012, isn't going to command a salary as high in 2013, though he isn't necessarily going to come cheap.
ESPN's Jim Bowden predicts that Youkilis will get a two-year, $18 million contract*. and that's probably not too far off from what he'll wind up with.
It might be a bit more than the Yankees want to spend, but for what he can provide the team, it's an investment well worth making—and it certainly won't bust the Yankees' budget.
Keeps Him Away from the Red Sox
His time with the Boston Red Sox didn't end on a high note, largely in part to his strained relationship with former manager Bobby Valentine, but Youkilis remains a fan favorite and is sure to be a target for Boston this winter, seeing as how the team does not have an everyday first baseman.
It's not a major reason to sign him, but hey, anytime you can keep a division rival—especially the Red Sox—from improving their ballclub, it's a move worth giving serious consideration to.