Over the last few years, it’s been no secret that the New York Yankees have been very interested in San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley. Today, they finally achieved their goal of bringing him to the Bronx by acquiring Headley in a deal for Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula.
Now the question is, what will they be getting out of the 30-year old who has struggled at the plate for most of the 2014 season, and was bringing him aboard at this point in his career even worth it?
Back in 2012, Headley became a major target on the Yankees’ radar when he finished with 31 home runs and an NL-leading 115 RBIs. Since then, however, he has not been the same player. In 2013, he saw his home run total drop to 13 and only drove in 50 runs. The 2014 season has seen him regress even more offensively, as this year he is batting just .229 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs.
Much of his poor performance this year may be due to injury. Headley has been bothered by a sore back throughout the season, and has been playing with a herniated disc. However, in late June, he received an epidural injection in his back to help lessen the pain, and since then has been a much better hitter. So far in the month of July, he is batting .323 with nine runs batted in.
The Yankees are betting on Headley being reasonably healthy the rest of the way and him performing like he has so far this month, and not like the player who struggled through the first three months of the season. It is a good risk to take considering that Headley will be a free agent at the end of this season.
Headley gives the Yankees a real everyday third baseman, something the club has not had this year. Solarte came out of the gate strong and looked as if he was poised to become the team’s starting third baseman. However, after a solid first two months, the league finally appeared to catch up with the journeyman 27-year-old infielder, and the team quickly lost faith in him. Kelly Johnson has also been disappointing, and is probably a better fit coming off the bench.
So far this year, the Yankees’ third basemen have been averaging .245 with 14 home runs. Headley should be able to improve on that, and will make the team’s lineup deeper by giving them another middle-of-the-order run producer.
Headley also gives the Yankees a big upgrade in the field. So far this season, he has saved seven defensive runs, while the team’s third basemen have minus one defensive runs saved. The team has been very sloppy in the field as of late, so having a quality glove at the hot corner may help with that problem.
It is far from a guarantee that Headley will have success with the Yankees. He seems to be a shell of the player he was in 2012, and could suffer through more problems with his back as the season progresses. However, this still seems like a good chance to take for the Yankees, especially considering how little they had to give up to get him.
The Yankees are not one player away from being a playoff contender. They have multiple holes to fill on the roster. So, buying low on players who have had past success like Headley and Brandon McCarthy is general manager Brian Cashman‘s way of filling those holes, while holding onto bigger prospects for a possible bigger deal later on.
Headley has already looked somewhat rejuvenated over the past month, and getting thrown into a playoff race in a great baseball town like New York may be just what he needs to spark him even further. There is plenty of upside with Headley, and if he performs well over the next few months, the team may have potentially found a starting third baseman for years to come. If he struggles, the Yankees can just let him walk in free agency and look for another third baseman next year.