Is David Freese the Yankees' Best Alex Rodriguez Replacement Option for 2014?

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Is David Freese the Yankees' Best Alex Rodriguez Replacement Option for 2014?
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The New York Yankees are looking for potential replacement candidates for star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, and David Freese appears to be on that list.

With A-Rod facing a hefty suspension due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, the team may need a new third baseman next year. Rodriguez is attempting to appeal his suspension, but he is likely in for at least a 50-game ban.

That leaves the Yankees with a hole at the hot corner, and it's one that they desperately need to fill.

According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Yankees have discussed a possible trade for Freese.

As a former World Series MVP, Freese has obvious value. And according to Feinsand, the St. Louis Cardinals will likely be willing to trade him away to bring up top prospect Kolten Wong:

The Cardinals are hoping to move Matt Carpenter from second base to third, opening a spot at second for top prospect Kolten Wong. Moving Freese would allow them to do that, while also giving the Yankees an insurance policy for A-Rod if his suspension is upheld.

It's a good move for the Yankees too, as Feinsand points out that even if A-Rod comes back, he'll have to DH quite a bit:

Despite coming off a down year for him, during which he batted .262/.340/.381 with just nine home runs and 60 RBI in 138 games, Freese could be the top option to fill in for A-Rod.

The question is, is he the best option?

 

Option 1: David Freese

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

2013 Team: St. Louis Cardinals

2013 Stats: .262/.340/.381, 9 HR, 60 RBI, -0.3 WAR

2013 Salary: $3.15 million

Freese is one of the guys whom the Yankees appear to be serious about early in their search. Reaching out to the Cardinals about possibly trading for him shows that the team has serious interest in the former World Series MVP.

This could be a good time for the Yankees to trade for Freese, as his value is very low after his poor performance in 2013. However, he is a career .286/.356/.427 hitter with solid power, which he showed off when blasting 20 home runs in 2012.

Couple his production at the plate with solid defense (or at least better defense than A-Rod's), and you can see why the Yanks are interested in him.

Shockingly, Freese has never played against the Yankees in his career, but it's safe to assume that playing in such a hitter-friendly park should help his power numbers quite a bit.

Trading away a prospect for Freese is no big deal for the Yankees, and his $3.15 million salary from 2013 is nothing for the team. He isn't going to cost the team all that much, considering that St. Louis wants to move him, and the help he would provide the team makes him well worth the price tag.

 

Option 2: Mark Reynolds

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

2013 Team: Cleveland Indians/New York Yankees

2013 Stats: .220/.306/.393, 21 HR, 67 RBI, -0.3 WAR

2013 Salary: $6 million

The Yankees don't necessarily have to look outside of their organization for their new third baseman. In fact, they might have signed him just a few months ago.

Mark Reynolds signed with the Yankees in mid-August, playing 36 games before the end of the season. While he wasn't a star, he put up decent numbers, batting .236/.300/.455 with six home runs and 19 RBI in the Bronx.

While Reynolds isn't the type of guy who gets on base a lot or is a great defender, he brings a much-needed power bat to the lineup.

In 2013, the Yankees hit just 144 home runs. That's more than 100 less than 2012, when they led MLB with 245. It was the first time the team didn't hit at least 200 dingers in five years and the lowest total for the Bronx Bombers since 1995.

Yankees fans know Reynolds can hit for power, considering he hit 13 home runs against the team in 2011 and 2012 when he played for the Baltimore Orioles.

New York is going to need all the help it can get in the power department if it's going to make it back to the postseason next year, and Reynolds can provide that.

 

Option 3: Omar Infante

2013 Team: Detroit Tigers

2013 Stats: .318/.345/.450, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 2.4 WAR

2013 Salary: $4 million

Omar Infante picked a good time to get hot, and he turned in arguably the best season of his career on the heels of his free agency.

Things didn't always go smoothly this year, however, as Infante suffered a gruesome shin injury against Colby Rasmus and the Toronto Blue Jays in early July. Luckily, he came back strong and finished the year on a high note.

Set to cash in on what ended up being a terrific 2013 campaign, Infante won't come cheap. Chris Lott of MLive.com writes that Infante's price tag will likely be too much for the Tigers, leaving Infante as a possible candidate to replace A-Rod.

Infante would likely welcome a change of scenery. Surprisingly, he has struggled in Comerica Park, batting .256 with 20 home runs in 330 games. However, he has been on fire in the Bronx, batting .346, which is 67 points higher than his .279 career average.

While he might not bring the same power as Reynolds, Infante's contact and consistent ability to reach base makes him a valuable asset.

The biggest concern about Infante is that he is naturally a second baseman. In fact, he played all 118 games at second in 2013. However, if the Yankees can help him adjust to third base, he would be a nice addition to the team.

 

Option 4: Michael Young

Harry How/Getty Images

2013 Team: Philadelphia Phillies/Los Angeles Dodgers

2013 Stats: .279/.335/.395, 8 HR, 46 RBI, -1.3 WAR

2013 Salary: $16 million

At 37 years old, Michael Young is not a long-term answer for the Yankees like Freese could be. However, there is mutual interest between the two parties.

According to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports, Young would have waived his no-trade clause to accept a deal to the Yankees. The Yankees were rumored to be among the teams pursuing Young, but the Phillies were not willing to trade him to the Bombers, per Mike Wallace of ESPN New York.

Young is a versatile third baseman without much history of injury. He also turned in another solid performance in 2013, putting up great contact numbers.

While he isn't a star, Young is still a talented third baseman whom the Yankees have been known to want. The biggest concern here is whether or not New York is willing to shell out the $10 million or so that it will take to sign Young.

 

Option 5: Eric Chavez

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

2013 Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

2013 Stats: .281/.332/.478, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 0.1 WAR

2013 Salary: $3 million

Eric Chavez is coming off an injury-shortened season of just 80 games, but during that short time, he proved his worth once again.

The former Silver Slugger posted good numbers at the plate when he played, showing off a solid amount of power to accompany his contact numbers.

The Yankees are interested in Chavez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. And after the way he's played over the past few years, that should come as no surprise.

Chavez has yet to slow down when healthy, but he's been dealing with injuries for years.

The biggest problem with Chavez is that he hasn't played in more than 113 games since 2006, playing in 90, 23, eight, 33, 58, 113 and 80 games in each of the past seven seasons, respectively.

However, the six-time Gold Glove winner can still play the hot corner well and has been productive at the plate. If he can avoid the injury bug, Chavez could put together a nice season for the Yankees.

 

Final Verdict

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Yankees only have one shot at finding A-Rod's replacement, and they need to make it count.

The worst option right now appears to be Young. While both sides seem interested, he lacks the power that the team needs and is rapidly approaching the end of his career. Tack on the $10 million price tag, and he seems like a bad choice.

Reynolds sits just above Young on the list. He certainly has the power Young lacks, but he too is aging quickly and has shown his inconsistency at the plate time and time again.

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Chavez comes next, as his injury troubles make him a very risky option. He would be a nice addition to the team if he could stay healthy for an entire season, but that's asking a lot of a guy who's averaging just 57.9 games per season over the last seven years.

The toughest decision on this list comes between Freese and Infante, but the edge goes to Infante.

While Freese has been very successful in the past, he simply isn't as good a hitter and all-around third baseman as Infante. It also hurts that the Yankees would have to give up a prospect in order to trade for Freese as well as take on his salary, whereas they could just pay for Infante's services.

Freese might be a good option for the Yankees, but he's not the best.

 

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