Chase Headley Re-Signs with Yankees: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2014

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Despite a somewhat disappointing 2014 season, third baseman Chase Headley cashed in Monday, reaching an agreement to sign a contract with the Yankees to stay in New York.

The Yankees confirmed that Headley has decided to re-join the team via their Twitter account:

ESPN Insider Buster Olney reported that the deal is worth $52 million for four years. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the sides were agreeing to a contract.

Rosenthal would later elaborate on the nature of Headley's agreement:

Olney also weighed in on why the Yankees made the move to bring Headley back:

The 30-year-old veteran split last season between the San Diego Padres and the New York Yankees after a trade for utility man Yangervis Solarte and minor league right-hander Rafael De Paula sent him to the Bronx ahead of the deadline. Headley finished the campaign with a .243 batting average, 13 home runs and 49 RBI, although he improved at the plate after getting dealt.

Headley hit .262 with six homers and 17 RBI in 58 games with the Yanks. The switch-hitter also reached base 37 percent of the time, which was right up there near his career best in that particular category.

Above all else, though, Headley is an elite defender. He won a Gold Glove with the Padres in 2012, and FanGraphs' metrics rated him as the best defensive player in baseball last season. While that tends to be an underrated skill in a game starved for offense, it made Headley far more attractive on the open market.

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

With that said, there were plenty of question marks surrounding Headley when he entered free agency. When the Yankees acquired him, it had all the makings of a deadline rental deal. In fact, Yanks general manager Brian Cashman even categorized him as precisely that after the trade, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch:

Headley added a spark to New York in the latter part of the season, and the Yankees expressed interest in bringing him back as a result, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

However, the Bronx Bombers also had to consider the status of third baseman Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod will return to baseball in 2015 after being suspended for the entire 2014 campaign, and he mans the hot corner by trade.

Rodriguez is nearing the age of 40, though, which means there is no guarantee he will be able to handle the rigors of playing in the field every day.

Per Dan Martin of the New York Post, Headley reciprocated interest regarding a return to New York but was wary of A-Rod's presence as well.

"I know they have a player (Rodriguez) under contract. We'll see how that shakes out," Headley said. "We'll see what my role would look like. ... I want to be a guy that plays. At what position? Obviously, third base I think is my strongest position. I don't want to be a part-time guy."

Now that the buzz and the speculation are in the rearview mirror, though, it will be interesting to see if Headley can live up to his contract.

There is no doubt he will be an asset in the field, but his hitting is a bit of a mystery. Headley showed what he was capable of in 2012 when he hit .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI. Although he hasn't approached those numbers since, the ability to reach them is present.

Headley has some value regardless of whether his offense rebounds, but he could prove to be an elite signing if he comes close to his 2012 form.

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