A-Rod’s Surgery Adds Urgency For the Yankees to Acquire a Bat
Maybe he’s not a singles hitter after all
The saga of Alex Rodriguez continues as the third baseman is projected to miss 3-6 months while he recovers from surgery on his left hip.
Rodriguez was starting to heat up in 2012 when he was struck by a Felix Hernandez fastball. After missing weeks due to the injury, he was not the same hitter upon return, struggling to drive the ball.
By October, A-Rod was virtually useless and became a part-time player, unable to make contact most of the time.
From a Yankees’ standpoint, at least there is some solace in the fact Rodriguez wasn’t driving the ball for a perfectly valid reason and not necessarily because of his age.
However, this is a player who has not been healthy for a full season since 2007 and will likely not play in more than 122 games in a year since 2010 by the time he starts his 2014 season.
At this point, though encouraging he may provide more power than he showed the last couple of months of 2012, he can no longer be relied on as a full-time third baseman, capable of playing a full season.
The Yankees would be making the better move looking for a major piece on the left side of the infield. With Derek Jeter coming off of surgery and Rodriguez likely out until June, New York not only needs Eduardo Nunez to play Major League defense, but they need another major piece.
The Washington Nationals are implied to be looking for pitching and possibly including Morse in a package rather than alone to acquire a better starter.
It also appears the Rays will not be the team to make the deal.
While a team like Texas could use Morse in the event Josh Hamilton walks, the Yankees are also in a position to get a deal done and may be more willing to part with an attractive pitching package.
If the Nationals also include a catcher such as Kurt Suzuki (Wilson Ramos may be a reach), or an infielder like Danny Espinosa, the Yankees could offer Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes and some filler prospects.
Nova is more cost-controlled but Hughes had the better season and offers more upside.
The Nationals would receive a middle to back end starter they seem to be coveting and the Yankees would get either an infielder or a suitable catcher, plus Morse’s walk year.
The Yankees would have a 30 HR bat for the outfield and DH (especially now that Rodriguez won’t be filling it the first few months) and a righty, and the Nats will have someone they can lock up if they want to, who will likely pitch better in Washington in the NL and less of a hitter’s park.
The Yankees would have a couple of inexpensive players and short contracts and they can absorb the loss of someone like Nova with Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda already resigned and pitchers like David Phelps, Adam Warren and Brett Marshall ready to contribute (plus Michael Pineda when he returns).
Suzuki would make $6.45 million dollars in 2013 and has an $8.5 million dollar team option with a 640K buyout in 2014. Basically, for the same 7 million they were willing to give Russell Martin for one year, they can have Kurt Suzuki.
Espinosa is still arbitration eligible so he would likely require the bigger package (in addition to Hughes or Nova) but if the Yankees did want to make the big splash, he adds more power and speed than Suzuki (17 HR and 20 SB) and the Nationals do not need him with Ian Desmond and Steve Lombardozzi set to be starters in 2013.
Keppinger fits if the price is right
The problems won’t just be solved with a Morse/Espinosa/Suzuki package. They should also pursue someone like Jeff Keppinger if he’s willing to come on a one year deal.
Keppinger is also returning from surgery but is a better fit than Stephen Drew, who is often injured and plays less positions.
If the Yankees can acquire Morse and Suzuki or Espinosa, plus Keppinger to accompany Nunez, that should fill the void.
New York would go into 2013 with an outfield of Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Morse from left to right (with Chris Dickerson there for depth), Keppinger/Nunez/Espinosa/Jeter for the left side of the infield (and Morse and Keppinger can backup the right side) and if not Espinosa than Suzuki to be thrown into the catcher mix.
Pursuing someone like Ichiro Suzuki on a one year deal shouldn’t be out of the question either, with Gardner having a history of injuries.
The rotation can be CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Phelps (or a veteran innings eater) out of Spring Training.
By the summer, the Yankees may have Rodriguez and Jeter back at third and short, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano at first and second, Suzuki at catcher, and guys like Morse, Nunez, Keppinger, Romine and Pineda, all players capable of making a big impact, there as insurance.
If Cano or Granderson walks and Rodriguez continues his half-season patterns, the combination of Morse and Keppinger signed to new contracts beyond 2013 can help ease the blow and provide depth for the future.