The Yankees made a decision on their third base situation for 2015, signing free agent Chase Headley to a four-year contract worth $52 million, according to many reports early this afternoon.
Headley, acquired via trade on July 22 for utility infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael DePaula, hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 58 games in pinstripes. Headley, a switch-hitter, also provided terrific defense at third base and can also play first base in a pinch. That’s a plus with the injury-prone Mark Teixeira still on the roster.
Alex Rodriguez returns from his year-long suspension, but the Yankees never seemed to seriously consider him an option at third base in 2015. At this point, Rodriguez looks like a DH candidate if he can prove he’s up to the job in spring training. With Headley so good with the glove, Rodriguez might see very limited time in the field.
The Headley signing also allows the Yankees to play Martin Prado, acquired in a mid-season trade from Arizona, to be the team’s everyday second baseman. Before signing Headley, the Yankees were looking at playing Prado at third and splitting the second base responsibilities between rookies Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. So this is a major upgrade over that scenario.
Headley had a monster season in 2012, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the NL MVP voting and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award that year.
That, however, looks like an aberration on the back of Headley’s baseball card. He’s never hit more than 13 homers in a season before or since, never driven in more than 64 runs in a season before or since and is a career .265 hitter.
So what kind of player did the Yankees just lock up for the next four years at $13 million per season?
Is he a good glove, slightly above average bat kind of player he looked like after landing in New York? Or is he the power-hitting, run-producing machine of 2012?
I’m not sure whether the Yankees are gambling on the later or simply snatching what was left on the free agent market after getting essentially shut out during the winter meetings in San Diego last week. Either way, Headley is a fine player that solves a third base problem for 2015. The question is, thinking long term, will Headley himself be the problem by 2017 or 2018? Have the Yankees just saddled themselves with another aging star on an overpriced contract?