General Manager Brian Cashman acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula before the the trading deadline. While Headley has not provided the power at the plate many Yankee fans hoped for, just two home runs in pinstripes, he has provided excellent defense at the hot corner and been effective overall offensively. Headley is batting .253 since joining the Yankees with a .347 on base percentage. In addition to solidifying the third base position, which has become a black hole in the Yankee universe since Alex Rodriguez‘s injury plagued 2012 season, he has also proven himself a capable first baseman, filling in for injury-prone Mark Teixiera.
Looking forward to the 2015 season, it is becoming apparent that the Yankees will need to make signing the 2011 National League MVP runner up a priority. Even with Rodriguez planning on making a comeback at age 40 after a PED suspension, the Yankees should consider third base an open position. No one knows what kind of production a 40-year-old Rodriguez, who hasn’t played a full season in years will be able to provide. The young third basemen in the farm system, Eric Jagielo and Dante Bichette Jr, are not ready for the majors, and the only player on the active roster signed through next season with experience at the hot corner is Martin Prado, who will probably go in to spring training competing with Rob Refsynder for the starting second base job. That leaves a big hole in the infield with the best available option on the free agent market being Headley.
Headley will likely never replicate his fantastic 2011 season. He missed out on a lot of money by not re-signing with the Padres after his career year. However, the Yankees can reap some benefit from Headley’s poor decision. Headley’s price tag will likely be much lower this offseason that anyone could project even a year ago. Even if his offensive production lags, his value in the field as a top notch defender cannot be understated. Headley has shown himself to be one of the best defensive third basemen in the league, and provides the Yankees with the added flexibility of being able to spell Teixeira at first.
The lack of a true backup at first plagued the Yankees throughout the first half of the season as Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, Brendan Ryan and even Carlos Beltran were forced into duty for an injured Teixeira. Those days could be a thing of the past by re-signing Headley. Given Headley’s propensity to gamble upon himself, he may even be tempted by a shorter deal than would have been previously expected, perhaps as low as a 3-year $36 million deal, which would be a steal for the Yankees.