When Alex Rodriguez went down with a broken left hand and the verdict was about eight weeks on the DL, the rumors immediately swirled as to who the Yankees could target in a trade. Rumors certainly become intensified since we are just a few days from July 31st non-waiver trading deadline.
However, Brian Cashman continues to stress calm and warns he will not make moves which will cost him too much in terms of money and prospects. One name I think the Yankees should look at who could be part of a longer solution is Chase Headley. His name is among a few third baseman available. But that list is dwindling, as one of the players mentioned as an option was Marco Scutaro, but he was trade late last night to the San Francisco Giants. Some analysts believe the Padres have set a price tag that would be too high for a rental player, but what if the Yankees looked at Headley as a solution for at least a couple seasons? The Headley market looks to be gaining some steam as scouts were in Baltimore to watch the Orioles play the Oakland A’s, a couple of teams who are looking at Headley.
Instead of rental players, like Scott Rolen (please don’t do it) and Ty Wigginton (a deficiency in the field) the Yankees should look beyond a two-month player and view Headley as a two-year solution at the least. Headley, 28, will not be a free agent until after the 2014 season so he will come on the relatively inexpensive side. He’d fit into the Yankees need to bring payroll down over the next couple seasons (he is making $3.475 million this season) and minimally provides a stop gap a third.
The reason to consider Headley now is two-fold. One, Eric Chavez, who is in line for a majority of the appearances at third is brittle and oft-injured, even though sometimes it isn’t necessarily his fault. As soon as he was hit by a pitch last night and left the game, it said to me that the Yankees are playing with fire. Neither Chavez, Jayson Nix, Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez nor Brandon Laird should be considered quality replacements for what Rodriguez offers, even with his diminished productivity.
Headley would be an upgrade over any of the in-house players mentioned above in the short and long term. Some of you may be asking; what do the Yankees do about A-Rod? The answer is simple; he needs to move to DH when he comes back and for the foreseeable future. Rodriguez has performed very well when in the DH role this season. In 114 plate appearances, his triple slash is .343/.404/.510 with 8 doubles, 3 homers, 13 RBI and 4 SB. In 283 plate appearances while playing third, he’s hitting .251/.343/.429 with 6 doubles, 12 homers, 31 RBI and 7 SB. Yes, it is a small sample, but one I venture to guess would continue to play out. A-Rod will tell anyone who wants to listen that he could play third for a couple more seasons, but in my opinion the writing is on the wall.
Like Chavez, Rodriguez has become a magnet for injuries over the last few seasons. While, no one can avoid being hit by a pitch, every time Rodriguez takes the field, he runs the risk of an injury he wouldn’t otherwise as a DH. Plus at 38-years-old, playing the field causes more wear and tear on a body that has been through a lot the last few years.
So, why Headley? Some feel that he is beginning to breakout and his offensive production has been limited by playing in San Diego’s cavernous Petco Park. He plays a decent third base (career 8.4 UZR/150 at the position). He’s a switch hitter, who for the season is hitting .267/.359/.428 with 12 home runs, 51 RBI and 10 SB. These numbers are not far off his career line of .268/.346/.398.
His home/road splits favor the road by a large margin. He’s hitting .258/.345/.363 at home and .272/.374/.489 on the road. Of his twelve homers, nine have been away from home. One would have to imagine that Headley could improve his counting stats some while playing half his games at Yankee Stadium.
I’m sure the Padres are asking for more than anyone is going to initially offer; they should as that’s how a negotiation starts and they own the commodity. But, the Yankees should not preclude themselves from discussing Headley, because he can fill a larger role than a rental. His cost would certainly be too high for two months, but he’s a player on the rise who could benefit from a better hitting environment and he fits the Yankees payroll desires of the future. Hopefully when Brian Cashman saw Chavez drop to the ground he had the same feelings as me, why play with fire and kill two birds with one stone.
Tags: A-Rod Alex Rodriguez Brandon Laird Chase Headley Eduardo Nunez Eric Chavez Jayson Nix Marco Scutaro New York Yankees Petco Park Ramiro Pena San Diego Padres Scott Rolen Ty Wigginton Yankee Stadium Yankees