The Kevin Youkilis rumors continue, as it was reported yesterday that the Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks have interest in the Boston Red Sox third baseman. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the Phillies and Indians have scouted Youkilis during his minor league rehab, while Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe reported that the Diamondbacks are now also interested in the Red Sox veteran. Beyond the Diamondbacks, Indians and Phillies, it’s been reported that the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds are also looking to upgrade their corner infield positions.
The Indians are currently owners of a two-and-a-half game lead in the American League Central. The Indians offense has been middling this season despite the lack of production they’ve received from their starting first baseman, Casey Kotchman.
While the Indians appear to be alright at third base with Jack Hannahan (.801 OPS), Kotchman has struggled. The 29-year-old has been unable to reproduce last season’s success for the Indians, posting a line of .211/.295/.325 over his 123 at-bats. Youkilis could be an option for the Indians if they wanted to upgrade at first base.
The Phillies haven’t gotten much in the way of steady production from either first or third base this season. While their first base platoon has at least posted mediocre numbers (combined .769 OPS), Philadelphia’s primary third baseman Placido Polanco has shown his age.
Polanco continues to decline, as the 36-year-old has only mustered a line of .279/.311/.357 this season. For this reason the Phillies could look to use Youkilis at first and third. Even when Ryan Howard makes his return, the Phillies should be able to get creative enough to keep Youkilis’s bat in the lineup on a regular basis by using him to spell the club’s other veterans.
Though he’s only posted an OPS of .670 so far this season, it’s unlikely the Diamondbacks will look to totally replace Paul Goldschmidt at first base. However, Arizona did say they are interested in upgrading their corner infield options and do need help at third base, making them a candidate for Youkilis.
Ryan Roberts has gotten most of the starts at third this season despite hitting only .227/.288/.319, and as a group the players manning the hot corner for the Diamondbacks have only registered an OPS of .660.
While there will certainly be interest in Youkilis if he comes available this summer, the Red Sox need to figure out if they are willing to trade the 33-year-old. Will Middlebrooks entered the year as Boston’s top prospect and lit the world on fire when he was called up following Youkilis’s injury. Though he’s come back down to earth a bit recently, Middlebrooks has still maintained an OPS of .885 thanks to his .580 slugging percentage.