3 Free-Agent Options to Replace Alex Rodriguez If He Is Suspended Through 2014
Major League Baseball's decision on suspensions regarding the Biogenesis scandal are expected to be announced in the near future, and a report by Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post suggest that Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees could be handed a suspension that sees him miss the rest of this season and the entire 2014 campaign.
Such a suspension would give the Yankees no options at third base for the 2014 season, as David Adams has proven he isn't ready for an everyday job and both Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez are better served as utility infielders.
The market for third baseman won't be a deep one this offseason, but there are a few options that could entice Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Assuming they are committed to Rodriguez following his impending suspension, the Yankees will only need to sign potential third basemen to one-year contracts.
Seeing as every free-agent third baseman is 30 years old or older, one-year contracts could be what most of them seek.
The last thing the Yankees want to do is put up another abysmal offensive season like they have in 2013. Even if it means signing a player that's on the wrong side of 30, Cashman needs to bring him in if he can hit.
Mark Reynolds of the Cleveland Indians isn't the best fielder at the hot corner, and he's probably best suited for first base. He has a 92.8 career fielding percentage at third compared to 99 percent at first. Regardless, the Yankees could use his help at the plate.
Reynolds is a professional hitter. He has hit 196 home runs in parts of seven major league seasons, with his highest single-season output coming in 2009 when he hit 44. He also drove in 102 runs and hit .260/.349/.543 in 2009, a season that is by far his best as a professional.
Of course, Reynolds also strikes out at a rate that can put Adam Dunn to shame. He led the league in strikeouts for four straight seasons from 2008-2011 with totals of 204, 223, 211 and 196, respectively.
Yankees fans know Reynolds well from his days with the Baltimore Orioles (2011-2012). He was a Yankee killer, hitting 13 home runs against the Bombers during his time in Baltimore. To put that in perspective, he hit 60 total home runs during those two seasons—meaning nearly 22 percent of his home runs came against the Yankees.
Reynolds could most certainly be had on a one-year pact. He signed a one-year, $6 million deal to play for the Indians, and a similar contract could lure him to the Bronx. Even if the strikeouts mount up, the home runs could too. That's a chance Cashman should be willing to take.
The Yankees have been linked to Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Michael Young as a potential trade-deadline target, but the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers could also be in the mix to acquire him, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Young, one of the better contact hitters of the past decade, has had a solid (though unspectacular) first season in Philadelphia. After playing his entire career with the Rangers, Young has posted a line of .277/.342/.402 with seven home runs and 32 RBI with the Phillies.
From 2003-2007, Young was one of the top hitters in baseball. He recorded at least 201 hits in each of those seasons, leading the league with 221 in 2005. He also hit .331 that season (to lead the league) and finished eighth in the American League MVP voting.
Young is no longer that type of hitter, though he did post a league-high 213 hits in 2011 for Texas. Young won't put up flashy power numbers or drive in a ton of runs, but he keeps runners moving by making solid contact nearly every time he gets to the plate.
He also gets on base quite a lot, something that has failed the Yankees' stagnant offense this season. Prior to 2012 (.312), he had not posted an OBP less than .330 since 2002 (.308). Young is in the twilight of his career and will likely be operating on one-year pacts from here on out.
As a player with hardly any history of injury, Young could command nearly $10 million. For a team seeking offense, that's certainly worth it.
Omar Infante is one of the more underrated players in baseball. The guy can hit as a result of his plate coverage and ability to make solid contact. There's a reason the Detroit Tigers re-acquired him from the Miami Marlins last season after he spent the first six years of his major league career with the team (2002-2007).
Infante is putting together another solid season in 2013, albeit playing entirely at second base. He's hitting .309/.340/.447 with six home runs, 18 doubles, two triples and 27 RBI. Like Michael Young, it's his consistency—not his power—that will win games at the plate.
He has played a majority of his career games at second base, though he has played 107 games at third. He has a range factor (RF/9) at third, which isn't really good or bad. Infante would be a serviceable third baseman as a one-year stopgap.
The best part about Infante would be how inexpensive he'd be compared to other options. He'll be finishing up the second year of a two-year, $8 million contract come season's end, so a one-year deal in the territory of $5 million should be enough to lure him in.
The Yankees could do much worse than Infante in the bottom third of the lineup. Given his relative inexperience at third, he may be a second or third option for Brian Cashman to replace Alex Rodriguez in 2014. If it comes down to signing him, though, then Cashman better make the move.