I may not have been the most happy fan when the New York Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis not too long ago, but now I understand the value of the contract. For one-year, $12 million, Youkilis will be expected to fill some rather large shoes at third base. With Alex Rodriguez‘s surgery date set for the January 16, it’s been announced that he may not be back until after the All-Star break, or past July 15th. In that time, Youk will have to do exactly what we hated seeing him do in Boston: Produce. Now, we don’t hate it all and in fact, we encourage Youk to do well as a new member of the Yankees, much like we did with Johnny Damon years ago.
Once again, I say bravo to Brian Cashman for this deal.
Looking at this deal, I’m still not entirely thrilled about giving Youk $12 for just one-year, but it’ll have to suffice. While his final years in Boston may have been more struggling than anything, Youkilis may find New York the place to recharge his batteries. If we take an example like Ichiro Suzuki, we’ll see he was a clear case of a player who just needed a change of scenery. Perhaps that will be the case with Youk.
As we can tell in 2012, Youkilis struggled with the batting average (.235), but in other regards to a slash line, he did well with a .336 on-base percentage and a .409 slugging percentage. Even still, he was able to slug 19 homers, drive in 60 runs and came around to score 72 runs. His trade to Chicago happened for multiple reasons, probably the biggest one being his spat with ex-Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. The other reason Youk was traded was mainly due to his lack of production in Beantown, so perhaps the owners felt obliged to try and get something for their three-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove winner.
Even despite his struggles in 2012, Youkilis still played a sizable chunk of the season in 122 games. The overwhelming majority of them were at third base and a few at first, which he still can play every once in awhile. The fact that Youk can be versatile between first, third and even DH makes him a rather efficient signing. You can look at his 2011 and 2012 numbers when he wasn’t as good at the plate as he was in the previous three years beforehand, but regardless this is a guy who is a .283 lifetime hitter. Also, not to forget, but he had a pretty solid .275/.386/.492 slash line against left-handed pitching in 2012.
What Youkilis can make up for in A-Rod’s absence may not make that much of a difference in the end if the rest of the line-up still cannot hit. However, that said, Youk is a step in the right direction. He has a decent bat that can usually find the gap, he draws a decent amount of walks and has a knack to just get on base. In 2012 in particular, Youkilis was beaned 17 times, which was the most in his career.
Is Youkilis going to be the perfect solution for this Yankees? Absolutely not. Youkilis only adds to the aging problem in the Bronx, as he himself will be 34 in March. He’s got a glove that while it did win him an award in 2007, has somewhat been less productive as in 2012, he has not only seen a dip in his fielding percentage (.967 in 2011, .964 in 2012) but in UZR (-2.3 in 2011, -4.5 in 2012) as well.
So for the time being, this signing looks incredibly smart. While I would’ve like to have nabbed Jeff Keppinger, perhaps the Yankees got the best alternative to him. Obviously Youkilis is more than likely going to have to look for a new home after 2013, but until then, this may be a signing that wouldn’t be so bad after all.