If the New York Yankees can see the train wreck coming, why not at least try to protect themselves from the debris now?
Though Alex Rodriguez‘s ‘resurgent’ .244/.348/.423 triple-slash on-field performance with seven homers in 181 PA in 2013 might have shielded it from some among the Bronx faithful, the fact of the matter is that the embattled third baseman is bad news for the Bronx Bombers, and he will continue to be until he is no longer a part of the organization.
The team might end up having little choice in the matter in the pending divorce battle, though in no scenario will they come out unscathed.
At the very best, they will end up with a constant distraction on the field until he’s 41, an overpaid pariah who won’t produce anywhere close to the $86 million left on his contract even if his twice-repaired hip is able to hold up through the 2017 season. In the worst case? Well, MLB‘s 211-game suspension pending appeal handed down to A-Rod might help the Yankees put the distraction out of sight (though hardly out of mind) for a little while … at the potential loss of millions.
Those are millions, by the way, that the team will ostensibly need to pay Robinson Cano, and whichever free agent targets they may desire in the next couple of seasons.
The Yankees have money, but even if Hank Steinbrenner and co. might finally capitulate to having to spend more of it than they want this offseason, it doesn’t mean they just want to throw it away either. Instead, they should look to spend it smartly, and given the combustibility at the hot corner, one of the first no-brainer moves would be for the team to re-sign a plan B that they’ve already brought in: Mark Reynolds.
Yes, you could say that New York already has one such plan in infielder Eduardo Nunez, but despite posting a strong .821 OPS at third base over 54 at-bats in 2013, his role is much more defined at shortstop, if only because of the uncertainty surrounding Derek Jeter. It’s not inconceivable that the captain will spend a good chunk of time at DH or on the DL next season, and Nunez is the only realistic option to take over.
That means the team is still direly lacking for depth at third — and first for that matter — and Reynolds is just the right piece for the Yankees to make sure they don’t end up with nothing in either positions.
No, he won’t draw as many walks (6.7 percent walk rate vs. A-Rod’s 12.7 in 2013) thanks to his swing-happy ways, but if you were to look at his six homers and .755 OPS over 120 PA with New York towards the end of the season, Reynolds actually compares quite favorably as far as power is concerned.
Neither will be good defensively at the hot corner, but in the best-case scenario for Yankees, having Reynolds will help spell Rodriguez’s legs and hips by letting him start as the DH. In the worst case? The former could prove to be an invaluable stopper of a developing black hole.
Part of what should make this an easy decision for the Yankees is that the free agent market is not particularly deep at third base anyway. Outside of signing Jhonny Peralta to play third, the only decent option might be to overpay for an aging Juan Uribe for two years with the risk of getting little to no production at all.
Oh, and on top of the Yankees likely having to face competition for their services, they can’t actually make these moves until the suspension picture clears up.
Reynolds, on the other hand, is less sought after given his poor 2013, will come at a much more reasonable cost in what should be a one-year deal, and New York already has a leg up being that they’re the last team he played for. Add the fact that he could conceivably produce similar offense as Rodriguez in 2014 and provide the versatility the to help spell the team’s aging stars … at a fraction of the cost that they will be paying A-Rod?
Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman want to spend boldly this offseason according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, and one of the boldest move they can make in the face of impending disaster just happens to be one of the most affordable.