Finding a Landing Spot for Youk May be Difficult
Kevin Youkilis' name has been thrown around in trade rumors all winter long. With David Ortiz accepting salary arbitration, the role of designated hitter for the 2012 Red Sox team has been filled, leaving just one place on the roster for Youkilis to play: third base.
While it is believed that injuries have hampered his play at third base, his bat is not a liability. Youkilis is a solid baseball player. Having said that, he still has been injured a significant portion of time over the past two seasons.
Of the regular opening day starters, only JD Drew has played in fewer games than Youkilis in the past two years. The difference is not as drastic as you would think.
Drew played in 220 games in 2010 and 2011. Youkilis played in 222. While the fact that Youkilis is a superior player with a more reasonable salary and genuinely is liked by the fanbase may be the reason why he has not been criticized locally for that fact, on the national scale, this will make trading him harder than most realize.
While the idea of trading Youkilis for starting pitching has been floated, I think that the Red Sox should examine teams that are in need of a first baseman or are looking to shed salary rather than pitching, if they plan to entertain the idea of trading Youkilis at all.
Here is a list of five potential landing spots for Youkilis and why they would work.
Youk only offers the Mets a savings of $3M... is it enough?
David Wright, the 28-year-old third baseman for the New York Mets is a perennial National League MVP candidate, Wright is also entering into the final year of his contract.
Wright is slated to earn $15 million in 2012 for the Mets, with a team option for 2013 at $16 million, or a there is also a $1 million buyout.
In his seven years of service time, Wright has been selected to the All-Star team five times, finished fourth in MVP voting in 2007, seventh in 2008. He has two Gold Glove awards to match his two Silver Slugger awards.
Kevin Youkilis is slated to earn $12 million in 2012 with a team option for 2013 of $13 million, or, there is a $1 million buyout.
In his seven years of service time,Youkilis has been an All-Star three times, won a Gold Glove award and placed third in MVP voting in 2008, 6th in 2009.
There are two things that could put the kibosh on a trade with the Mets. First, I'm not sold on the Mets letting Wright go to save $3 million. Second, they have 24-year-old Ike Davis playing first base already.
While he was injured in 2011, Davis looks to have the same general makeup as Youkilis for essentially pennies on the dollar.
The only way this type of deal would get done is if there were a third team involved in need of a first baseman willing to take on Youkilis' salary.
McGehee came in 5th in the 2009 NL ROY voting
Casey McGehee is not the sexiest name on the market. The fact of the matter is, if the Brewers intend to compete after suffering a loss of Prince Fielder they are going to need offense.
Currently the Brew Crew has two young and developing players on their roster who can play third. While the Red Sox have Will Middlebrooks waiting in the wings for another season or two, a slightly more developed player like McGehee could keep the seat warm for him.
Why would the Red Sox make this move? First, it gives them some salary flexibility. McGehee is under contract making in the mid-$400k's and not arbitration-eligible until after the 2012 season.
While his offense is not as strong as Youkilis, he is a serviceable third baseman who can offer you a .746 OPS and drive in 90 RBI. Defensively, he is not a liability.
While he did commit five more errors than Youkilis, he also played in 33 more games as well.
The Brewers would make this move to fill the offensive void left at first base should Prince Fielder decide to sign elsewhere. Youkilis' power numbers will not match up with Fielder's; however you would not lose much on the RBI front.
According to Baseball Reference, over 162 games Fielder would likely average 106 RBI while Youkilis would average 98.
Call me Ahab because this is my white whale.
Everyone has a baseball version of their own white whale and Hanley Ramirez is mine. Ever since the Red Sox traded him in the package that brought back Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, I have been longing for a reunion with Han-Ram.
I know, it sounds crazy, but since the Marlins have backed out of the talks for Albert Pujols and have spent some of that money on starting pitching, presumably they still wouldn't mind an upgrade at first base.
While Hanley and the Marlins are all saying the right things at the moment, initial reports had Ramirez unhappy with the position switch to third base with the signing of Jose Reyes to play shortstop.
A trade back to Boston could appease both teams. Ramirez would be able to come to town and take over at shortstop, where he wants to play, and the Red Sox could move Marco Scutaro to third base. He is no stranger there, having played third for the Blue Jays, Athletics and the Mets previously.
Ramirez is owed $15 million in 2012 while Youkilis is owed $12 million. Surely the Sox would take that upgrade at short for a $3 million boost if the offer ever surfaced.
Baker can play the hot corner.
It is hard to imagine former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and current GM Ben Cherington not examining any trade possibilities that could strengthen both teams.
The Cubs do not have their corner infield positions locked up for the 2012 season yet, and adding Kevin Youkilis could be a nice addition to the Cubs roster. Obviously in Boston we know what Youkilis can do, as does Epstein, which is why he would want Youkilis there.
In return, the Sox could get a player like Jeff Baker. Baker has been sort of an everyman thus far in his career, playing first, second, third, etc. He could come in to the Red Sox lineup and add a bit of youth to third base and maintain decent offensive numbers.
If given a chance to play 162 games, Baker could be a .270/.322/.436 player with a .984 fielding percentage. Again, a move like this would be to keep the seat warm for Will Middlebrooks.
A man of many hats.
Albert Pujols is now an member of the Angels. Lance Berkman had an incredible comeback year in 2011, but the fact of the matter is that he is older and may not be that good again in 2012.
The Cardinals have one player that may be able to bring them Kevin Youkilis to fill the shoes of Pujols, that player has worn many hats: the local guy, the World Series hero, David Freese.
While the team may find it difficult to part with two major contributors to their 2011 World Series team, it is forced to look at life after Pujols and Youkilis could play an important role in that transition period.
First, the Cardinals could consider Freese trade bait because they do have Daniel Descalso who could fill in at third base.
The Red Sox would take Freese on and that would actually give them flexibility to potentially trade Middlebrooks for much needed pitching.
The Red Sox would presumably have to eat a portion of Youkilis' salary, but again, this would be a money saver for both organizations, and it allows for both to move forward into the next progression of their respective ball clubs.