Wilson Betemit is a name most New York Yankees fans are familiar with. At one time, Betemit was acquired as insurance at third base in case of an opt-out by Alex Rodriguez as the Yankees sent Scott Proctor to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for the versatile infielder. Rodriguez opted out but was ultimately brought back, making Betemit a bench player. Now, the Yankees can use insurance for Rodriguez next season and Betemit just hit the open market after being released by the Baltimore Orioles.
As a Yankee, Betemit hit .253/.286/.425 with 10 home runs, 49 RBI, 35 runs scored and 17 doubles across 124 games and only 273 at-bats. Now 31-years-old, Betemit finds himself on the free agent market once again. He is coming off a knee injury that kept him out of the majority of 2013 but should be fully recovered now and into next season.
The Yankees are clearly concerned with Rodriguez and his impending suspension. They already went out and brought in Mark Reynolds to see what he had left in his bat. However, as the Yankees learned this season there is no such thing as too deep at any position and Betemit has experience at all four infield positions and corner outfield spots, is a switch-hitter, is familiar with the Yankees and is versatile enough to give him a shot.
Betemit is not a superstar defender but he will hold his own. He is an upgrade over Reynolds at third and Reynolds plays a passable game in the field. He hit .261/.322/.422 last season with the Orioles which is in line with his career line of .267/.332/.442 so he should still be a serviceable player.
If the Yankees are worried about depth next season with Derek Jeter coming back from his ankle injury (again), Jayson Nix coming off of a broken left hand, Mark Teixeira coming off of his wrist injury and Rodriguez potentially missing all or most of next year due to suspension they should be. There are just too many questions marks. Betemit might not be the ideal answer to some of those questions but he is a nice player to have around and the Yankees could certainly use a player with his versatility and ability to hit for power. The Yankees could have used a player like Betemit this season as they ran everyone from Chris Nelson to Luis Cruz out there at third.
The Yankees will certainly have a bust off-season ahead of them but Brian Cashman should pick up the phone and dial up an old friend and see what it will take to bring Betemit back into Pinstripes. One plus is Betemit won’t break the bank if the Yankees are still trying to get under the luxury tax threshold of $189 million next season. Betemit is worth a look.