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.)

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

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.

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