The New York Yankees are in the market for a third baseman this offseason as a result of Alex Rodriguez's potential suspension, but the market at the hot corner continues to get thinner and thinner with each passing day.
The St. Louis Cardinals signed arguably the top third baseman available, as they inked Jhonny Peralta to a four-year deal just this past weekend. While some viewed the contract as an overpay, Peralta was clearly able to dictate his contract based on his standing in the market.
David Freese of the Cardinals was a trade target of general manager Brian Cashman's, but he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim a few days before the Peralta signing to make room for the free agent. He had been linked to the Yankees earlier in the offseason.
Now that the market has thinned out, it's time for the Yankees to sign one of the following fallback options before they sign elsewhere as well.
The Bombers had been looking at Omar Infante, reports Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports, to potentially replace Robinson Cano over at second base, but he also has experience at the hot corner and would be a fine addition to the lineup.
He hit .318/.345/.450 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI for the Detroit Tigers last season, and he'd be a fantastic option to hit seventh or eighth in a potentially deep Yankees lineup. While the season was a bit of an anomaly in terms of his slash line, Infante has hit over .300 two other times in his career.
The fact that this was a career season will drive his price up, but the Yankees should have no problems throwing him $20 million or so over two years. If Peralta was worth over $50 million, then Infante certainly has every right to ask for at least $20 million.
Infante doesn't have much pop, but his ability to put the ball in play and get on base makes him a perfect fallback option. He was already being courted by the Bombers, and now they can offer positional flexibility his way as well.
Mark Reynolds might strike out a ton and play poor defense at third, but there isn't a single cheaper source of power available right now.
On a one-year deal worth about $5 million, the Yankees could get a guy that has the potential to hit 30 home runs with regular at-bats. Sure, he'll hit .225 and strike out nearly 200 times in the process—making him a poor man's Curtis Granderson—but he'll provide plenty of power in a lineup looking to replace A-Rod's.
Reynolds finished his 2013 season in pinstripes, hitting six home runs in 110 at-bats and striking out 31 times. Having already made his initial adjustment to New York, coming back for another season in 2014 would likely come with a short acclimation period. That's obviously a positive for the Yankees.
Reynolds offers flexibility in that he can also play first base. Surprisingly, he plays first pretty well and would probably be best suited for a full-time spot there. The Yankees can offer him full-time at-bats at the hot corner with the chance to play sporadically at first when Mark Teixeira needs a day off, though.
In terms of a value signing, there may not be a better one still available.
The Yankees would need to platoon right-handed hitter Eduardo Nunez with Eric Chavez, but that doesn't mean a reunion with the 36-year-old is a bad idea.
Chavez's skills are certainly declining, and he's no longer a lock to play an everyday role, but the Yankees saw exactly what he could do when he stepped up to play in 113 games in 2012. He hit .281/.348/.496 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI, all his highest marks since 2006.
Chavez left for the Arizona Diamondbacks after the season and produced at a similar clip, but the Yankees need to sign him back before the Diamondbacks negotiate with him. Chavez would be a perfect fit in the bottom third of the lineup, and he can still play close to that Gold Glove caliber defense he used to possess.
Like Reynolds, Chavez would be a fantastic value signing. The difference between the two is that Chavez is clearly the more well-rounded player, of course.
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