New York is just six games behind Boston for first place in the AL East, and is more than capable of making a second-half run. But that’s only going to happen if general manager Brian Cashman can work out a deal for someone who can play third base and make an impact in the heart of the lineup.
The Bronx Bombers have been plagued by injuries this season. Nearly every notable name on the roster has been placed on the disabled list at least once this year. Derek Jeter has only played in one game and Alex Rodriguez hasn’t put on pinstripes once this season. Mark Teixeira only played 15 games and won’t play another in 2013.
Heading into the second half of the season, the Yankees have the 24th-best offense in baseball in terms of WAR, according to FanGraphs. Arguably the biggest problem this season—aside from all of the injuries—has been the hole at third base. It’s been an adventure at the hot corner all year long for the Bronx Bombers.
New York third basemen have combined for the 25th-best WAR in the game, according to FanGraphs. In fact, it’s negative. That suggests that the Yankees would be better off playing replacement players instead of the ones who have actually taken the field this year. What’s funny is that they have been using replacements.
Take a look at the numbers for those who have played third for the Yankees in 2013:
Cashman has to make a move, and he knows that Headley is the guy he needs.
Headley had a breakout year in 2012, hitting .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI. He’s struggling to replicate those numbers in 2013, but may just need a change of scenery. Through 82 games, the third baseman is hitting .229/.330/.359 with seven home runs and 31 RBI. That's not ideal production, but it's not terrible either.
While the Padres are willing to listen on any of their players, Headley appears to be as close as possible to an untouchable player without actually being one. People who have spoken to the Padres have the impression it would take a special prospect to make the Padres even consider a trade for Headley.
The Yankees have been attempting to deal a package that includes Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and catching prospect J.R. Murphy to get a bat, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN (subscription required). If that’s what Cashman offered the Padres for Headley, San Diego was smart to end the conversation.
New York has to bring more to the table. Hughes is only a middle-of-the-rotation guy, Chamberlain has been a nightmare this season and Murphy isn’t even one of the team’s top prospects. Remember, Heyman reported that the Padres want a “special prospect.” That must mean someone in the top six or seven in the system.
Rodriguez could be back soon, but no one knows what his future holds—except for maybe commissioner Bud Selig and a few of his friends. Even if A-Rod returns to the Bronx, there’s no guarantee that he’s going to be as effective as anyone else who has played third for the Yankees this season.
Sure, Headley might not end up being the greatest Yankee ever, but it’s worth a shot to acquire him. Even if Rodriguez starts to hit like he used to, New York could stash Headley over at first. It’s not like Lyle Overbay, who’s hitting .237/.312/.396, has done much to show the Bronx Bombers that he’s their guy for the rest of the season.
Headley is a free agent after this season and if he works out, the Yankees should have the money to bring him back. If he doesn’t work out, New York sends him on his way to free agency.
It’s definitely a risky situation for the Yankees. But in reality, New York might not have enough talent to make the playoffs this season. The AL East has been as competitive as ever, and there’s a very real chance the franchise doesn’t make the playoffs for the second time since 1995.
Is Headley worth someone like Gary Sanchez or Mason Williams? No, probably not. But I’m positive that Cashman can find a combination of players that would intrigue the Padres enough where they’d deal Headley. New York has talent in the minor leagues that it should be willing to part with in order to try to win right now.
If the Yankees want to make the playoffs, they need Headley on the payroll.