Brian Cashman hasn’t decided on replacing Mark Teixeira from inside or outside the organization, but it seems that he’s leaning towards the former. The team has few young internal options at first base, but with Kevin Youkilis‘ versatility at the corners, the Yankees could opt for a third baseman. Guys like Corban Joseph, David Adams, and J.R. Murphy all have limited experience at third, and it’s hard to imagine that their range or glove at the position would suffice for an organization pushing forward a defensive minded team. The Yankees will probably go with an older and safer option.
Dan Johnson– Johnson finally landed his first Spring Training hit yesterday, and now would be a great time to start swinging the bat. Through 2700+ innings at first base, Johnson has shown average range. Offensively, he’s been slightly above average with his career 102 wRC+. The left-handed hitter might not had great contact numbers, but he draws a ton of walks and has no platoon split. He’d be a safe option to directly replace Teixeira’s on base percentage, but he otherwise offers very little upside.
Juan Rivera– If yesterday’s game told us anything about the Yankees’ plans, Juan Rivera playing first base stood out. Rivera is a notoriously bad fielding first baseman that holds a career -5.2 UZR/150 and .988 fielding percentage. Rivera’s offense hasn’t been above average since 2009, and before that 2006. With a 115 wRC+ against left-handers, Rivera is a platoon player at best, and it’s hard to imagine him taking over full time for Teixeira.
Gil Velazquez– He’s nothing special with the bat, and he’s nothing special with the glove, but he can hold himself at almost every position. If the Yankees want to bring in a super utility player, Velazquez can do everything except catch and pitch. He OPS’d .865 in a hitter friendly PCL in 2011, and followed that up with a .775 OPS in 2012. He hasn’t had any such success in the majors, but he’s been held to just 75 plate appearances.
Jayson Nix– Like Velazquez, Nix can play nearly every position. Position-by-position, Nix is awful at short stop, average at third base, and very good at second base. Assuming Cano stays on the field, Nix should only be used at third, and he hardly represents anything better defensively than Youkilis can do at the hot corner.
Addison Maruszak– The 26 year old Maruszak spent all of 2012 in Double-A Trenton where he had a very strong season. He posted a 117 wRC+ and 16 home runs while playing primarily short stop. Maruszak has played 99 games at third base and 104 at first base as well. The biggest question about Maruszak is his bat, which is hard to project at the Major League level. If he can swing the bat well for the rest of March, he might have a chance to make the team.
Ronnier Mustelier– A third baseman in Cuba, the 28 year old player primarily outfield over the last two years. In his time at third base, Mustelier has been below average, but there are few other options that can swing that bat as well as him. In 2012, Mustelier moved through the minor league system quickly by putting up a 179 wRC+ in Trenton, and then a 128 wRC+ in Scranton. Mustelier’s bat and positions translate well to the Yankees’ needs, but his ability to play third base is questionable.