The Yankees made a trade for the 2012 National League RBI champ, a former 30-home run player, and a former Glove Glover to man the hot corner. They also didn’t have to purge the farm system to get such an amazing player. This is great news, right? All of the offensive woes that have plagued this team for two seasons now are over. The Yankee offense will return to the ways of the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will rise to the top of the AL East before going on to the World Series. I mean, that’s what Tuesday’s acquisition of Chase Headley means, right? Well, in a word, no.
Chase Headley had a fantastic 2012 in which he was one of the best players in the majors, finishing fifth in the NL MVP voting that year. However since that career year, Headley has been injury prone and unproductive when he has taken the field. His refusal to sign a multi-year contract with the Padres since that year has cost him tens of millions of dollars as high value dropped as quickly as his sudden rise to stardom in 2012. There is a reason why the Padres were willing to part with him for the paltry sum of a non-prospect (Rafael De Paula) and a career minor leaguer (Yangervis Solarte). That reason is he has simply not been very good over the last year and a half and is a free agent at the end of the season.
But this trade is still good news for Yankee fans. Headley is still a solid defensive third baseman. He is a switch-hitter with some power and maybe able to take advantage of Yankee Stadium instead of playing in the cavernous Petco Park. Most importantly, he is a legitimate major league third baseman, something the Yankees have not had since Alex Rodriguez first got hurt in 2011. As a switch hitter, he will not need to platoon with another player and will be able to play everyday. In much the same way that there is a lot of value in the fact that while Derek Jeter has little range at short, anything that he can reach will be a guaranteed out, having an actual third baseman playing third will provide a lot of value. Headley is not the elite player he was for a few months in 2012, but he is vastly better than the guys the Yankees have throw out into the hot corner.
At the end of the day the Yankees are a better team today than they were the day before. Headley is a better third baseman than Solarte, Zelous Wheeler or Kelly Johnson. The Yankee lineup is better with him in it than those other guys. In much the same vein as how the Yankee rotation is better with a guy that had double digit losses before the All Star break (Brandon McCarthy) than they were with the man he was traded for (Vidal Nuno). Both McCarthy and Headley are moderate upgrades with some upside to be even better. The trades do not make the Yankees a true contender in the American League, but they are incrementally better than they were before and have a slightly better chance to win the AL East.