Hope Kevin Youkilis didn’t bother to grow his facial hair back. (Image: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
The Yankees were in need of a third baseman to replace Alex Rodriguez for what could be half the season due to hip surgery he’ll endure in mid-January. The Yankees failed to sign Jeff Keppinger, who went to the Chicago White Sox for three years, worth $12 million and lost Eric Chavez to the Arizona Diamondbacks (one-year, $3 million), so they turned their attention to Youkilis.
Youkilis went .235/.336/.409 in 509 plate appearances split between the Boston Red Sox and the White Sox. Hit 19 home runs and drove in 60 in 2012. He produced a 1.3 WAR, something he’ll have to improve on for the Yankees to reclaim their investment.
Youkilis, who will turn 34 in March, has seen his numbers decline since his prime in Boston, but he provides the Yankees with the most similar player to Rodriguez available on the free agent market. Youkilis’ willingness to go with a one-year contract was appealing to the Yankees in their quest to stay below the $189 million competitive balance tax threshold for the 2014 season.
Youkilis can DH and play first base if needed and helps provide some right-handed pop missing with A-Rod sidelined and Nick Swisher moving on.
With the signing of Youkilis, the Yankees now have right field to fill and Ichiro Suzuki is supposedly within reach. The Yankees have a vacancy at catcher, though they have been claiming to be fine staying in-house at the position with either Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart or Austin Romine.