A-Rod out until June; Yankees with another hole to fill

The Yankees announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez will undergo a “left hip arthroscopy to repair a torn labrum, bone impingement and the correction of a cyst,” and that a four-to-six month recovery time is expected.

This is not the hip that Rodriguez had surgery on in 2009. That was the right hip.

Here was one strange passage from today’s press release:

“Both doctors believe that there is a very strong possibility that Rodriguez’s hip condition may have had a negative effect on his performance during the latter stages of the season and the playoffs.”

Rodriguez, of course, was pinch-hit for and benched on multiple occasions during the Yankees playoff series against Baltimore and Detroit in 2012.

Now that the Yankees will be without their third baseman until June at the earliest, who fills in at the hot corner?

Internally, Eduardo Nunez is one option. The Yankees like his bat, but he’s been a liability in the field wherever he’s played. Yankees GM Brian Cashman just said that Nunez is not a full-time option at third.

Cashman also said today that there is absolutely no chance Derek Jeter moves to third base in the interim.

Eric Chavez, who has been a serviceable replacement option when healthy the last two years, could be a fit, but he’s currently a free agent. Minor leaguers David Adams and Corbin Joseph are both on the 40-man roster, although neither has played extensively at third base. Both have played primarily at second at the lower levels.

Jayson Nix, who did a fine job in a backup role in 2012, could also be a possibility, but like Chavez, he was designated for assignment to make room for Mariano Rivera on the 40-man roster. Nix, however, has said that he’s open to reporting to Triple-A again to start the season, should he miss out on an opening day roster spot.

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

The free agent market is pretty thin. Jeff Keppinger had a solid year with the Rays in 2012 and he can play any position in the infield. Keppinger, however, is coming off a “small break in his right fibula,” according to CBS and might not be ready for opening day himself. Casey McGhee, Placido Polanco and Mark DeRosa are also out there, but none of them are all that enticing.

Former Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds is a free agent, but is possibly a worse defender than Nunez, which is saying something. He’s also an all-or-nothing slugger, which doesn’t really fit into the Yankees’ front office strategy.

Of course, there is former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. It’s about as hard to imagine him in pinstripes as it is to imagine him without his signature goatee.

Marco Scutaro, postseason hero with the Giants, could be a fit, especially if he spells Derek Jeter at shortstop as well, but he’s likely to have other longer-term suitors.

Oakland shortstop Stephen Drew has been linked to the Yankees by various reports, but he’s never played third base before in the big leagues.

That leaves the trade market. Cashman said this afternoon that he’s not looking to do anything drastic, but you have to take everything Cashman says with a grain of salt.

The real question here is: are the Yankees ready to turn the page on Rodriguez being the team’s everyday third baseman? Is he destined to be a full-time designated hitter from now on?

The Yankees were linked to San Diego’s up-and-coming star Chase Headley this summer, but the Padres just announced that they’re not moving Headley, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

It’s equally tough to see the Yankees making a deal to a pitching-starved team for a youngster like Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez or Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, which would certainly be page-turning moves.

So, at this point it looks like anybody’s job. We’ll see what happens as the Winter Meetings continue this week in Nashville.

Who would you like to see playing third base for the Yankees in 2013? Who would you get to catch and play right field, the team’s other holes? Let me know on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery. 

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    Will Montgomery

    Will Montgomery covers boys' soccer, girls' basketball, boys' and girls' swimming and diving, boys' lacrosse and baseball (including the Hudson Valley Renegades) for Varsity845.com and the Times Herald-Record. Prior to joining the TH-R in November ... Read Full
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