As every baseball fan knows by now, New York Yankees third baseman, and probably the least-liked player in baseball, Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the entire 2014 season. With A-Rod almost definitely out of the fold for this upcoming season, the Yankees now have $27.5 million to throw around as they see fit. So the question remains, what will the Yankees do next with their newly freed up money? The answers are fairly obvious to anyone who follows the team, but still interesting, and in one case, exciting.
Now with Rodriguez on a 162 game vacation, the Yankees do not have any excuse to not push as hard as possible to get Masahiro Tanaka in pinstripes. With the money from Rodriguez’ contract now freed up, anything less than signing Tanaka will be a massive disappointment.
With free agency slowing down over the last couple weeks, and with the NFL playoffs at the center of attention for sports fans, people may have forgotten the Yankees still need a starting pitcher. As has been discussed in this space before, the Yankees have a serious weakness with their starting rotation with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova being the only pitchers in the rotation who can even be considered reliable.
Obviously, Tanaka has not pitched in the majors yet, so he can’t be considered reliable, but his track record in Japan is enough for the Yankees to take a leap of faith and sign him to a big contract. Signing Tanaka is definitely a risk worth taking.
The other need for the Yankees is now at third base. The solution here seems like to throw a Band-Aid on the position for a year and sign a guy like Mark Reynolds or Michael Young. Neither guy is exactly a glamorous option, but I would like to see the Yankees sign Young over Reynolds.
Young is nearing the end of his career, but he is still a decent player. He batted .279 last year with a .335 on-base percentage, which are numbers that do not jump off the page, but his real value is being a contact hitter. Young has never hit many home runs, but only struck out 78 times in 468 at bats last year.
Putting the ball in play as often as he does, there is a chance Young can maybe hit around .285 and will always give the Yankees a chance to keep an inning alive. Reynolds, on the other hand, simply strikes out too much and is shaky in the field. Reynolds does have some pop in his bat, but is only a .233 career hitter and his worst defensive years were when he was playing third base.
The Yankees should go with Young, who is the more consistent and reliable option. If the Yankees can make the big signing in Tanaka, and sign Young to a one-year contract to be a key contributor, the Yankees should be able to get by without missing A-Rod that much.