Predicting the New York Yankees' Infield in 2015
With the announcement that Kevin Youkilis has agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Yankees, the 2013 version of the "Bombers" infield appears set, but given the age of some of their most valuable stars, what will the group look like a couple of years down the road?
For now, the Yankees know the immediate future of their infield will hold names like Cano, Teixeira, Jeter, and Youkilis. Alex Rodriguez will eventually return but chances are that his role in 2013 will be limited to part-time DH duties.
In the next two seasons the team will have to address not only the age issue, but contract issues with a couple of its biggest stars. All of it will be done under a self-imposed salary cap in the attempt to avoid a luxury tax in 2014.
Looking to 2015, Yankees fans may see the end of an era, as well as the dawn of a new one in the perimeter of the infield grass.
Mark Texeira is the only certainty for the Yankees infield of 2015
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First base is perhaps the only infield position where Yankees fans already know who will anchor the spot.
Mark Teixeira won't become a free agent until 2017, so barring an injury or trade (highly unlikely given the price tag that would go with it - $22.5 million per year), "Tex" will be the mainstay of the infield for at least the next four seasons.
What fans of the "Bombers" are hoping is that Teixeira bounces back from the 2012 season - his least productive as a Yankee (24 HR, 84 RBI in 123 games) and give them more of what they became accustomed to over his first three years in the Bronx (averaging 37 HR, 114 RBI).
At 32 years of age, it seems likely that he will.
In 2015 David Adams may be the face Yankees fans see at second base
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After the 2013 season Robinson Cano becomes a free agent. Those are words New York Yankees fans cringe at hearing, yet the longer the team goes without getting a new contract in place, the more likely it is that Cano plays somewhere else in 2014. Speculation has already begun that the second baseman will seek big money once his contract expires.
It doesn't help matters that Cano's agent is none other than Scott Boras.
Fortunately for the Yankees, second base is one position where they have young, talented players that should be ready to assume a starting role on the big league club in 2015.
David Adams is 25-years-old and just completed a season at Double A Trenton where he hit .306 with eight home runs and 48 RBI in 86 games. While there, Adams also played 23 games at third base perhaps in an effort to ready him for that future role?
If so, 24-year-old Corbin Joseph provides the Yankees with another option at second. In 2012, he spent most of his time at Triple A Scranton where he hit .266 with 13 HR and 56 RBI in 84 games.
Whether it be Cano, Adams, or Joseph playing second base in 2015, the Yankees are set at that infield spot for years to come.
Eduardo Nunez has already shown he can hit at the big league level.
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It is difficult for Yankees fans to imagine anyone other than Derek Jeter at the shortstop position in the Bronx. Heck, it's even tough for me to write it, but in 2015 our beloved captain will be 41 years old and his current contract will have expired.
There are only two possible things that can happen. He'll either re-sign with the team and DH, or he'll retire. Both cases signal an end to one of the most celebrated eras in New York Yankees history.
Who steps into the big shoes Jeter leaves behind?
Yankees fans have already had a glimpse of his successor: Eduardo Nunez.
Yes, Nunez has had his share of problems in the field (he's had a .922 fielding percentage over the past two seasons during his brief time in the Major Leagues at short), but he has shown tremendous potential at the plate (hitting .292 and stealing 11 bases in 38 games this past season).
Given that he is only 25-years-old, there is still plenty of time to hone his skills in the field and take over when "Jetes" calls for an end to his Hall of Fame career.
"A-Rod" has had a couple of disappointing, injury plagued seasons under his record contract
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Alex Rodriguez is under contract with the New York Yankees through 2017, but that does not necessarily mean he'll be at the "hot corner" in 2015.
As has been well-documented, "A-Rod" has experienced back-to-back disappointing seasons in the Bronx, playing in only 68 percent of the Yankees games since 2010. That doesn't sit well with fans who have expected much more from the man making $27.5 million per season.
With another surgery planned for January, the player that has become a "boat anchor" to the Yankees financial plans will likely miss the majority of the 2013 campaign. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Kevin Youkilis has been signed to a one-year contract to play third base during the upcoming season.
Who will be the third baseman in 2015 if Rodriguez is relegated to DH/Pinch-hit duties?
At the minor league level, the organization has David Adams whose primary position is second base, but played 23 games at third last season (possibly in preparation?).
If they don't have anyone within the organization to fill the third base spot in the field, and with the contracts of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano possibly off the books, the team likely would pursue a high-level free agent to keep the injury-prone "A-Rod" in the dugout.
Gary Sanchez is fast-tracking through the Yankees system
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In 2013, the starting catcher position for the Yankees is wide open. Russell Martin has signed with the Pirates, and General Manager Brian Cashman has implied that the team will seek to fill the spot from within. Among the possibilities are perennial back-up Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli (good offense, no defense) and Austin Romine (good potential, coming off injury).
While the team seems to believe it can hold its own behind the plate at least in the near future, what lies two years down the road?
Remember the name Gary Sanchez.
The 20-year-old backstop is currently ranked as the third best prospect in New York's system by Baseball America and was rated as the best power prospect in the South Atlantic League. In 2012, he hit .290 with 18 HR and 85 RBI in splitting time with Class A Charleston and Tampa. Defensively he shows great potential and threw out base runners at a 30 percent clip.
As long as he continues to develop, and the Yankees keep him in the organization, the team should be set at catcher in 2015.