Kevin Youkilis is not the same player he was a couple of years ago with the Boston Red Sox. However, he was the New York Yankees’ best option at the hot corner to replace Alex Rodriguez who might miss half of the season as he recovers from another hip surgery that he is slated to undergo in January.
Prior to making an offer to Youkilis, the Yankees pursued Eric Chavez, Jeff Keppinger, and checked in on Mark Reynolds. Chavez went to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Keppinger took the multi-year offer from the Chicago White Sox. Reynolds signed a one-year deal to play first base for the Cleveland Indians.
Youkilis, 33, hasn’t hit above .300 since 2010 when he hit .307. In 2011, he saw his batting average nosedive to .258. Last season it took another plummet to .235. He doesn’t have to be a .300 hitter for him to be successful. If he hits in the .250s to .270s with some pop while playing solid defense he will be an asset.
Basically he has to replace Eric Chavez and doesn’t have to be the old Kevin Youkilis. The Yankees need Youkilis to hold down the fort for half of a year, or, if worst case scenario occurs, for one full season. That isn’t horrible.
This was a win-win for the Yankees who were quickly running out of options. Youkilis will not be a clubhouse disruption and he will get along with his Yankees teammates, even Joba Chamberlain who promises he won’t toss at Youkilis’ head anymore.
Youkilis will add some much needed right-handed pop and when Rodriguez comes back he can become part of a platoon at DH and fill in at first base and third when needed.
Yes, Youkilis will be 34 in March but it is a one-year deal. There is little risk in this for the Yankees. If Youkilis does well then the Yankees benefit for a year. If he struggles then the Yankees can cut ties. This was a good deal for the Yankees and Youkilis.