COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball through the first month or so of the season.
The Yankees came into the season with four All-Stars (Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez) on the disabled list. Francisco Cervelli, off to a hot start as the Yanks' new catcher, broke his hand and is out until June. Kevin Youkilis joined them on the DL April 30 because of a bad back. The club traded top prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners in January 2012 for promising young right-hander Michael Pineda. The next pitch Pineda throws for the Bombers will be his first ... and that's not likely to happen until late June at the earliest as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
So with a patchwork lineup of has-beens and never-was-es, the Yankees are 18-12 as of Monday, May 6, and are 1.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
Seriously, New York is playing .600 baseball right now with Lyle Overbay, Chris Stewart, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Travis Hafner getting regular at-bats.
So who is the one guy out there who could help glue this aging team back together? Who is the one player who might just be available somewhere around the trading deadline in July who could be a franchise cornerstone?
That guy is San Diego Padres' third baseman Chase Headley.
Headley should have been an All-Star in 2012, but that honor went instead to Padres' closer Huston Street. Headley hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs (in the power hitter's graveyard known as Petco Park) and 115 RBIs. He scored 95 runs and stole 17 bases. He was fifth in the National League Most Valuable Player voting while playing for a team that won just 76 games. He won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger.
He's also 28 years old and under team control for another three seasons; he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.
Headley would also fill a need for the Yankees. Despite the money involved (another $114 million through the 2017 season), it seems safe to assume that any production the Yankees get from Rodriguez moving forward should be considered a bonus.
Acquiring Headley would shore up third base for the next decade or so and provide a younger power bat to team with Robinson Cano (providing the team is able to re-sign him before or after he hits free agency this winter).
Headley would provide the Yankees with so much lineup flexibility. He's a switch-hitter who is strong against right-handed pitching and also very solid against lefties.
Last season, he hit .298/.402/.510 with 20 homers and 69 RBIs as a left-handed hitter; .265/.320/.481 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs as a right-handed hitter. For his career, the lines are .280/.366/.429 and .261/.321/.401, respectively.
As of now, Headley is about the only player who would be worth dipping into the Yankees cache of prospects in the lower levels of the minor leagues, players such as Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott or Ty Hensley (sorry, San Diego, but Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams have to be considered untouchable at this point).
The reason why is that Chase Headley could be a difference maker in the Bronx for a long time to come.
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chase Headley
- Alex Rodriguez
- Michael Pineda