The New York Yankees agreed to sign free agent third baseman Kevin Youkilis on Tuesday. The deal will be for one season and be worth a reported $12 million for the three-time former all-star.
Youkilis, of course, spent seven seasons playing for the rival Boston Red Sox, winning two World Series titles in Boston. He becomes the seventh member of the curse-breaking Red Sox team of 2004 to eventually don the pinstriped home whites of the hated Yankees.
In terms of practicality, however, these two are a match made in heaven.
Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery to correct a torn labrum in his left hip, but that procedure won’t even take place until mid-January. The recovery time is expected to be 4-6 months and there are concerns that Rodriguez won’t be able to handle third base duties upon his return, at least not every day.
While Youkilis is not an elite defender at the hot corner, he represents the best possible alternative for the injured ARod, at least at this point given what’s left of the third base market. That they got him on a one-year deal is also important and New York probably overpaid in order to get Youk to take the single year. Reports had the Indians offering a two-year contract, but for only $18 million in total. That offer vanished when the Indians opted to sign Mark Reynolds over the weekend.
With the Indians no longer interested, the decision became pretty clear for Youkilis, as there were precious few teams seeking a regular at either first or third base. The Marlins had interest, but rumor has it that Youkilis refused to even speak to the beleaguered franchise.
Instead, he’ll take the one-year deal and hope to put together a better season than his 2012 campaign that saw him struggle, especially prior to being traded from Boston to the White Sox. Overall, the former eighth round pick posted an OPS of just .745 last season, better than 100 points lower than his career OPS of .867.
If he can manage to stay on the field and play adequate defense, Youkilis will keep the Yankees afloat and give them professional at bats. Youkilis will be 34 before Opening Day, so there’s little reason to think his slide last season was much more than a bad year. He’ll probably never again be the hitter he once was, but it’s probably a safe assumption that he has more left than he showed last year. If he can prove that, Youkilis could set himself up for one last multi-year contract on the market next Winter.