After last night’s game, Mark Teixeira said he was unsure about what his hamstring injury timetable looked like, but that he’d like to avoid a DL stint. That will not happen, as Joe Girardi replaced him on today’s roster with Austin Romine. Francisco Cervelli showed some nice offensive stats in Spring, and he figures to take a handful of reps as the backup first baseman, but the Yankees are obviously less enthused about playing Cervelli or Yangervis Solarte over Teixeira.
I’ve seen some suggestions thrown around that the Yankees should target a first baseman, particularly Ike Davis. But Teixeira’s hamstring injury may be over as quick as his 15 day absence, and when he returns, Davis has no other position to play. Yankee Stadium would undoubtedly help Davis’ bat come around, allowing his left-handed power to better thrive in such a hitter’s ballpark, but his contact numbers also look doomed.
Stephen Drew figures to be a much better fit in terms of both bat and position. He has a longer track record of hitting for average, on base percentage, and his power projects well in Yankee Stadium. Also a left-handed hitter, Drew has the potential to be a 20+ home run hitter with the help of the short right field porch in the Bronx. He’s still a free agent who’s looking to rebuild his value for next year’s free agency, so a trip to Yankee Stadium is probably his best bet to pad his stats for a big contract in 2014-2015.
For the Yankees, Drew has only ever played shortstop, but there was belief throughout the offseason that he could handle a position such as second base or third base. I’d have to assume that he received some reps at these positions while he attended Scott Boras’ Spring Training camp, in order to make him more desirable. Assuming the Yankees think he can play third base, acquiring Drew would allow them to use Kelly Johnson as a super utility man at first base and second base. If Teixeira or Brian Roberts get injured, Johnson can handle either position and provide good offense and defense. Drew also offers more depth at shortstop, which will allow Jeter to rest on the bench or as the DH without the Yankees having an offensive black hole at the position.
For now, Drew will cost both money and a second round draft pick. That pick is currently number 55, and they would be bumped to having their first pick at 91 overall if they signed him. I’m not sure that the’re a huge difference between these two picks, as the MLB draft is rather deep this year, but the talent level around the second and third round remain very similar. Still, the Yankees will miss out on this pick, but it shouldn’t hurt as much after they spend the projected $15 million to $20 million on the international prospect market which opens up on July 2nd. Losing a second round talent will look like a drop in the bucket if they do indeed spend this type of money on a handful of the best international players.
Unfortunately, Drew will not be eligible for a qualifying offer at the end of the year, since a player needs to complete the entire season with a team. Drew should be willing to give the Yankees a 1 year discount though, as he’ll benefit greatly from their ballpark and the media spotlight. For the Yankees, acquiring another infielder always made sense, but with Teixeira showing his fragility so early in the season it makes more sense than ever. The Yankees need to add depth around the diamond, and acquiring Ike Davis wouldn’t be as beneficial as adding a shortstop like Drew.