Yankees Without a 3B and Other Hot Stove Updates

With Alex Rodriguez expected to miss a chunk of 2013’s first half, it was assumed that the Yankees would plug Eric Chavez into the third base hole, and maybe pick up Jeff Keppinger as a secondary option.

Just one problem (though, actually, one of two problems): contrary to popular belief among Yankees fans, Chavez was not technically employed by the Bronx Bombers.

It sure did seem like the Yankees owned Chavez, though, didn’t it? At least, if you listened to New York sports talk radio and/or paid attention to the local beat writers and blogosphere. It was more or less expected that Chavez was the de facto choice for 3B — until the Yanks found another, preferably more All-Starily solution. For those who remember applying to colleges, Chavez was akin to the Yankees’ “safe school” — the fallback option in case you weren’t accepted by an Ivy League institution. The buzz was that the Yankees were mulling over whether they’d “settle” for Jeff Keppinger as the guy to fill in for A-Rod — perhaps with help from second-choice Chavez.

Something unexpected happened instead: Chavez, looking to spend his season closer to home, signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then, Keppinger agreed to a 3-year, $12M deal with the White Sox.

I’m not sure why, but every December I’m stunned by the idiocracy of money and years thrown about by teams to marginal players. Did I miss something, or isn’t Keppinger a utility guy? Three years and twelve million dollars for someone who will turn 33 shortly after Opening Day and has qualified for the batting title (i.e., reached 502 plate appearances) only twice in eight years? Is this really the same guy the Mets once traded for Ruben Gotay?

Funny, isn’t it, to see first Marco Scutaro and now Keppinger get unreal deals within 24 hours? Two middling middle infielders who were essentially tossed to the curb ten years ago? I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. (Oh, and just to twist the knife a bit more, Keppinger came to New York as part of a deal in which the Mets sent Jose Bautista to Pittsburgh. Yeah. But hindsight is 20/20.)

In other news, another centerfielder became unavailable as the Orioles re-signed Nate McLouth. He received $2M with incentives possibly adding another half-million. The choices from the free agent market are quickly dwindling.

Nate Schierholtz is not a centerfielder, but he is an outfielder, and he’s also off the table, signing a one-year deal with the Cubs.

Lefthanded reliever Sean Burnett inked a two-year, $8M deal with the Angels. The Nats will miss him.

Another LOOGY, Randy Choate, was given three years and $7.5M from the Cardinals. Whaaaaa? Three years? Really? For 37-year-old Randy Choate? This one smells worse than the deal D.J. Carrasco swindled out of Sandy Alderson two winters ago.

The D-Backs also signed 35-year-old catcher Wil Nieves to a one-year deal to back up Miguel Montero. Yes, I’ve taken the shin guards out of the garage and have dressed up the mitt with neatsfoot oil.

Finally, Jason Bay signed with the Mariners for one year, one million. Anyone else expect him to hit .280 with 32 HR next year?

Comment away …

(BTW, I filed this at midnight, so if something happened since, please add it in the comments.)

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Izzy December 6, 2012 at 9:00 am
    I would think that any baseball observer would have a million times more confidence in Cashman filling his team’s needs than alderson, since Alderson has not filled one need since taking over as GM and has in fact ensured the team has more holes today than it had 3 winter’s ago when he took the job as do nothing GM.
  2. DaveSchneck December 6, 2012 at 9:33 am
    The Yankees couldn’t have enough holes as far as I’m concerned. Hey, if they want Flores for Cano or one of their catching prospects, they can fill that hole in a minute. As much as it is very frustrating to see other teams acquiring players while the Mets remain idle with many holes, it is important to reserve judgment until opening day 2013. With RA, for once the Mets are in a win-win situation. They will either trade him at their price, or re-sign him for only another 2 years at a reasonable price. Waiting for Grienke to come off the board is the best strategy, no doubt, so long as the RA situation is not holding them up from filling some of the other holes. CF is my biggest concern, but as you said in an earlier post, Soria for 2 yrs., even at $10 mil, would have been comforting. With FF on the back end, this pen is poised to screw up many well pitched games by a strong starting 5. Not good.
    • MikeT December 6, 2012 at 11:58 am
      Flores is not Major League ready and really not even for sure a 3rd baseman. Nor is he a 2nd baseman. Plus the Yankees need a stop gap, not a future starter. Plus really!? Cano for Flores? Wow. I don’t even. Now for a catching prospect, maybe. But even still the Yankees don’t need Flores.

      If anyone wants to suggest dealing Flores you may want to rethink that. Yes they have D Wright for 8 years, but Flores is not exactly knocking on the door of the big leagues just yet. If you are going to trade a young player like Flores, you do it once the only reason he is not on the Mets is because he is blocked. That is when his value is the highest, and a team with a need can trade for him and immediately insert him. Think of the Royals and Wil Meyers. He is major league ready and the Royals are trying to trade him for an ace. Flores can be that guy for the Mets. Prospects can be used to fill major league needs but if they do not carry that value themselves you have to package them up. If you wanted Cano, you would probably have to deal Nimmo too, or Mejia, or Familia, and likely a combination of these if not all of them. Wil Meyers might be able to net Cano all by himself if there was a need for the Yankees, though you would still need more most likely (this is obviously all hypothetical).

      • DaveSchneck December 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm
        I was just kidding on the Yankee/Met trade suggestion. I agree with you on Wilmer. Playing in Vegas this year, hopwfully he can rack up some big time offensive numbers and either push Ike at 1B or enhance his trade value.
        • Izzy December 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm
          Really enjoy the entertainment. Do you actually believe that all the GMs are as dumb as Alderson and his shrinking cult of adoring blind worshipers? do you think you and Alderson are the only ones who know the worthlessness of offensive numbers in Vegas? Time to wake up. Why do you think the Mets are in Vegas? Ylou know why! Alderson can’t work with anyone so the last team standing in AAA is always Vegas and that’s why they are stuck with the Mets. And as for being in a good position with dickey!! You are amusing again. Dickey waits a year and he’s gone and maybe Alderson gets a sandwich pick if he has the nerve to offer the tentative contract which will be almost 14 mil. The next time the Mets are in a good position will be when the royal loser, the king of roidal moves, is gone.
        • MikeT December 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm
          Hey Izzy, sounds like you need a new hobby. Following the Mets is really bad for your health if you are not careful…

          Everything you said is your opinion, and that is fine, with the exception being your conspiracy about Vegas. Sorry to say but it takes two to tango and Buffalo was dead set on Toronto. There’s enough evidence to show that AAA attendance has almost nothing to do who the team is affiliated with and everything to do with how viable the market is to begin with. Buffalo is a depressed city, and so no winning team or parent team with a larger fanbase in the market will draw better if Buffalo does not improve as a market. But that team decided they wanted the Blue Jays, and so the Mets were SOL. Vegas was the only team not affiliated. It’s tough luck. That is all.

        • DaveSchneck December 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm
          Come on, now, is the standard to be pegged an Alderson “blind worshipper” anyone that does not despise him without objectivity? I am quite skeptical of the $3 million dollar Wilpon mouthpiece, but reasonably he needs to get this offseason through opening day to assemble the 2013 squad and be judged. Most everything that has or has not happened prior to this offseason has been based on the ownership’s lack of cash. Now he and his million dollar sidekicks are on the clock. Yes, I think it is a position of strength when your plan A is to deal the Cy Young award winner for difference makers and plan B is to keep him. Lastly, we all know the AAA numbers are inflated out west, but rest assured if Flores tears it up in 2013 his trade value will rise.
        • derek December 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

          i get your frustrated like all met fans….but alderson was signed for this winter in particular. the last 2 yrs the mets werent gonna do anything with there financial situation but let the contracts fall off the books no matter who the GM was….

          alderson has signed wright to a fair deal…now lets see what he does with RA…and next yr he has money to spend…im not saying he is the greatest GM but the clock started ticking this offseason…lets see what he does.. this yr and next is what is gonna define the mets for the next 10 yrs…

        • MikeT December 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm
          The funny thing is, after the Wright extension, and his reported $8M salary for 2013, the Mets are at around $75M in 2013 commitments. They will end up operating around $100M in 2013 according to reports earlier in the year. Assuming that doesn’t change, the Mets can spend this winter. Next year some of the deferred money comes into play in 2014, but it is minus the $25M of Johan. It’s hard to know what will happen, but it is clear to me that they have deferred all this money this year with an eye on spending this winter.
  3. MikeT December 6, 2012 at 11:50 am
    Rumor is that the Phillies are going to get Michael Young from the Rangers. So their solution to last year is to get OLDER? Hah, okay then. Thank you Phillies for being a terribly run franchise. With that pitching they should win the NL East. But with that offense they will not, again.
  4. Joe December 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm
    Seattle is now where Mets overpaid rejects go. I’m surprised Castillo didn’t go there.

    Who will be the primary catcher of the Yanks?

    • Joe Janish December 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm
      Austin Romine. Unless the Yankees make a deal for Joe Mauer.
  5. Steven December 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm
    Yankees should sign Ronny Cedeno and insert him at third base. He might hit 10 home runs in the Bronx. I am surprised he hasn’t found a home yet.
  6. SiddFinch December 7, 2012 at 2:24 am
    Fearless Friday Morning Prediction -Mets sign Bourne to one- year deal to man CF in 2013.
    • Joe Janish December 7, 2012 at 9:59 am
      Don’t hold your breath.
    • DaveSchneck December 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm
      I would love Bourn in CF but I think signing him would cost the Mets their 1st round pick, #10 overall, and that may be a deal breaker, even if they found the coin.