Yankees state of the system: Third Base

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 28: Miguel Andujar
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 28: Miguel Andujar /
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Chase Headley is gone. Todd Frazier is still unsigned. Will the Yankees hand the hot corner to Miguel Andujar in April? Or is Ronald Torreyes ready to step in full-time until the kids are ready?

The Yankees third base predicament has been debated ad nauseam. By now, it’s clear what the team’s choices are.

They could pick Ronald Torreyes as Toe started 16 games at the position last year and 27 in 2016.

Torreyes is a quality fielder, even though his size suits him better for second base. His instincts are lightning-quick, and I have little doubt he would provide better-than-adequate defense at third base.

He’s also a contact hitter. Torreyes batted .292 in 315 at-bats last season. Torreyes doesn’t walk or hit for power, but he does put the bat on the ball. He’s speedy, even though he doesn’t steal many bases.

At a minimum, he’s a good utility infielder. Toe, 25, has the chops for second, short, and third.

Unless he craters, Torreyes is on this team for good. He occupied the major league roster for the entirety of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. There’s no reason to think he won’t do so again in 2018. He’s more than earned his roster spot.

Tyler Wade started 12 games at third base in Triple-A last summer. Gleyber Torres started 15 games. Both were new to the position. The Yankees were dissatisfied with Chase Headley and may have wanted to give their hotshot infielders a quicker path to the major leagues, hence Headley now playing for the Padres.

At last season’s trade deadline, the Yanks dealt for Todd Frazier. I suppose there’s a chance the club brings Frazier back for 2018. But we’re less than two weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, and there’s barely been any news on Frazier’s free agency.

If he does return to the Bronx, it will be on the Yankees’ terms. It’s hard to imagine them offering him more than one year, and Frazier is probably good enough to command a multi-year offer.

He’s hit 131 home runs over the last four years, and he has a helluva glove. Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, the White Sox and the Mets are all possible fits.

The Yankees are better than any of those teams. If the money is equal, they should be able to retain Fraz. But the team won’t spend limitlessly. The Yanks could make a competitive offer — say, one-year and $10-12 million with a team option for 2019 — but he might be able to do better on the open market.