It was a busy week for the New York Yankees just days removed from a very slow and unproductive time at the Winter Meetings. General manager Brian Cashman and his team struck a deal with former Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis and then came to an agreement with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki which is not completely finalized.
Youkilis passed his physical Friday and the Yankees made his signing official — one-year, $12 million. With Alex Rodriguez set for hip surgery, the Yankees needed a third baseman who could come close to matching A-Rod’s production. Youkilis could offer that if he bounces back from a down season. Cashman indicated he felt Youkilis will be able to do so. MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch provides the quotes.
"“This is an important acquisition to sign Youkilis, because, obviously, he certainly cushions the blow of losing Alex,” Cashman said. “That’s a difficult loss. A healthy Alex Rodriguez really is one of the more productive players, but I can’t think of anybody better on a short term to replace him than Youkilis.”"
‘ one-year, $12 million deal became official Friday. (Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
As for Youkilis’ feelings on playing in the Bronx, he suggested he was taken aback by the Yankees interest at first.
"“I was very humbled and amazed that the Yankees jumped into the picture. I never thought I’d be on the other side of the rivalry.”"
Cashman said that when trade talks led to nothing they began to pursue Youkilis more because he was the closest fit to Rodriguez’s profile. Cashman also indicated that A-Rod will get his job at third base back if he is healthy enough and reminded everyone that Youkilis can play some first base and DH, so he’d still get at-bats if Rodriguez indeed returns at full strength.
Youkilis was of course asked about the lingering tension between he and Joba Chamberlain. He snuffed it out rather quickly.
"“It’s not a big deal to me. If it was that big of a deal, I wouldn’t be signing with the Yankees,” Youkilis said. “But I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. And I think a lot of it was made out to be a lot bigger with the media and the fans.”"
I think that Youkilis will ease the blow of losing Rodriguez better than anyone else out there and I think he’ll be able to get plenty of time elsewhere on the field if A-Rod returns. That probably had a big part to play in Youkilis’ decision to change sides of the rivalry with his former team. Youkilis is a fierce competitor, something the Yankees will love now that he is on their side.
"“Over the years, I’ve had a lot of Yankee fans come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I’m a huge Yankees fan, but I like the way you play the game,'” Youkilis said. “I’m going to play as hard as I can every day and I think a lot of fans will appreciate that. So that’s all I can bring to the table and I hope that the Yankee fans enjoy watching me play.”"
Youkilis also has the benefit of understanding the franchise’s view that they are after a World Series title and that was appealing to the 34-year-old.
"“Quite honestly, in talking with my family, we thought it would be an unbelievable experience to live in New York City for a year,” Youkilis said. “We also just thought it would be the best opportunity for myself and my family to enjoy another World Series.”"
Yankees and Angels discussed Wells during Winter Meetings
The Yankees have known from the beginning of the offseason that they would eventually need a right-handed hitting outfielder to offset at least two left-handed hitting starters in Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. The team probably knew at that time that Suzuki was number one on their list to take over in right field for Nick Swisher, making the right-handed bat all the more important.
So, while performing his due diligence, Cashman had talks with the Los Angeles Angels about Vernon Wells during the Winter Meetings according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Wells, is two-years from completing a horrendous deal in which he will have earned $126 million. The Angels would have to pay a majority of Wells’ remaining $42 million in order to move him. With the recent addition of Josh Hamilton, the Angels have no room for Wells.
The Angels would receive more in a deal surrounding Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourgos, but maintaining each of them makes the Halos incredibly dangerous, so moving Wells may be their first desire.
Wells has been a disaster for the most part during the extension period he signed in the 2006 offseason. His two seasons in Los Angeles have demonstrated that he may never return to the player Toronto Blue Jays fans once applauded. In 2012, Wells recorded a slash line of .230/.279/.403 in 262 plate appearances with nine doubles and 11 home runs. He does have some pop left in the bat but he can’t seem to get on base the last two seasons. His OBP in 2011 was .248 in 529 plate appearances (combined .258 in 2011 and 2012) which is absolutely atrocious.
The Yankees would use Wells in a strict platoon. The 34-year-old hit .266/.312/.481 against lefties since 2011. Not great, but much better than his overall line. This seems to me to be Cashman covering all the bases by checking in on as many options as possible to help him make a decision.
The Yankees have shown interest in Scott Hairston, but he is looking for a two-year deal, which may push the Yankees out of the running for his services. I wrote Thursday that there were not many options out there besides Hairston, so it will be interesting to see how this void is filled.