While Derek Jeter begins a long process of saying goodbye to Major League Baseball, the Yankees are in no position to say goodbye to its shortstop of the past 20 years. A few years ago, everything was set up.
New York had just drafted Cito Culver with its first pick, Eduardo Nunez was showing signs of being an everyday shortstop at the Major League level and Jeter was showing no signs of slowing down, except of course to his right.
Even headed into last season it seemed Nunez was taking a temporary stop at the hot corner as a bandaid to Alex Rodriguez, and Brendan Ryan would hold the roster over until a new shortstop was crowned or Nunez shifted back over.
Fast forward to today and Jeter is officially retiring after this season, Ryan is battling mysterious spine injuries and Nunez was unceremoniously designated for assignment in exchange for Yangervis Solarte. Though Solarte had an amazing spring training where he flirted with hitting .500 all month and he has respectable minor league numbers, nobody is crowning him the next Nunez and especially not the heir to Jeter. Solarte is 25-years-old, has never sniffed the majors until now and is more a utility role replacing Ryan than a serious candidate to be a regular in the Bronx.
New York can always look towards the free agent market in the off season with players like: Jeter, Hiroki Kuroda, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki due to come off the books. But after a winter of locking up an entire outfield, locking down a potential anchor in the rotation and rebuilding half of the infield, it would be in the Yankees’ best interest to identify a long-term plan at shortstop that doesn’t involve dead presidents.
At least for today, the vision of a shortstop seems more shortsighted than well fielded.