The New York Yankees have reached a deal with Brendan Ryan to bring the slick fielding shortstop back in 2014. Though there are kids in the Little League World Series every year who are better hitters than Ryan, he can still help the Yankees win by saving runs with his glove rather than driving them in with his bat.
Between Ryan and Eduardo Nunez New York should have enough insurance at shortstop if Derek Jeter has another injury-plagued season like he did in 2013. Still, the Yanks need to add more depth at third base thanks to the Alex Rodriguez saga. Accordingly, the organization has shown interest in Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta. Whereas Ryan will likely play a role similar to that of Jayson Nix in 2013 (utility infielder/late game defensive replacement), Drew or Peralta could potentially start at third base and add some pop in a shortstop/DH platoon with Jeter.
The question is which one do the Yankees target?
Drew, a left-handed hitter, might be better suited for Yankee Stadium. He’s coming off a great offensive year with the Boston Red Sox during which he hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI. With the short porch in right he could have another big year in New York. However, because he received a qualifying offer, signing him would cost the Yankees a first round draft pick. He’s also never played third base in the major leagues.
Peralta, on the other hand, played 104 games at the hot corner in 2009 and 100 games there in 2010. From an experience perspective he’s the better option. Like Drew, he’s coming off a solid year at the plate, batting .303/.358/.457 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI in 107 games. Unlike Drew, he’d be much cheaper to sign. Drew made $9.5 million in 2013 and declined Boston’s qualifying offer worth $14.1 million for one year in order to seek a bigger deal in free agency. Peralta made $6 million in 2013, and his 50-game PED suspension could negatively affect the offers he receives this offseason (at least it will if teams have any integrity).
This is Peralta’s downside. The Yankees could potentially lose one third baseman to suspension and replace him with a guy who was already punished for the same PED scandal. That’s a morally questionable move to say the least. Then again, all would be forgiven if he ends up hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy next October.
Drew is a year younger than Peralta and is the better player, but he’ll cost New York a more lucrative multi-year contract and the opportunity cost of a draft pick. Peralta is a cheaper option, but by buying his services the team would be selling its integrity.
The Yankees need to add some firepower at shortstop and third base (where they desperately lacked it in 2013), and these two are the best options. If only Brendan Ryan could hit above the Mendoza line.