So here's a confession. I'm scared to death by what the Red Sox are doing right now. Terrified by it. It was only 13 months ago that they pulled off the 1-year rebuild to perfection and now they look like they're fixing to do it again. They've added the 2 best bats available on the FA market to deals that are more team-friendly than people are giving them credit for, they have a big time offer out to Jon Lester, they have a ton of trade assets to use in a variety of ways to add more top-tier starting pitching, and they have a pretty good lineup core still in place. They've put themselves in prime position to pull off another worst-to-first in 2015.
In response to their signing of Pablo Sandoval, the hot stove chatter on Chase Headley has picked up big time. He's regarded as the next best third baseman on the market after Sandoval, and with Sandoval setting the bar and the Giants now needing a third baseman of their own, competition is expected to heat up for him quickly. That's potentially bad news for the Yankees, who have been actively pursuing re-signing Headley and were hoping to get him on a reasonable 3 or 4-year deal.
Doing things in response to other teams doing things is never a smart strategy, and the talk around Yankeeland has been how the team needs to stay its course in the face of Boston's big moves. Headley was always part of that course, but personally I'm starting to question whether that's the right course more than I was before the Sandoval signing. The Yankees need a third baseman, but do they really need it to be Chase Headley?
Andrew Marchand posted something on this very topic yesterday afternoon and I'm inclined to agree with a lot of what he said in it. Headley is a nice player, no doubt about that. He does a lot of things well and his defensive value at third is up there with the best in baseball. But he is 30 years old and turning 31 early next season. He's a good-not-great .265/.347/.409 hitter. He has fewer than 95 career home runs in 6.5+ career seasons and a third of them came in his outlier 2012 season. He has had back problems and will likely continue to have them in the future. Is that really the type of player that an old, injury-plagued, power-starved Yankee team NEEDS to add this offseason?
That's before you even get to the new standing Headley has on the market as the top third base dog. The chances the Yankees had of getting him on a 3-year deal, at any dollar value, have all but evaporated with the signing of Sandoval, and the Giants are no pushover when it comes to spending money. If they could afford to make Sandoval an offer in the 5-year/$100 mil range, they can easily afford something in the 4-5 year/$60-80 mil range for Headley. When you start to talk about that kind of commitment and you really look at Headley's career production, it doesn't add up.
Headley isn't the hitter he was in 2012. He's not going to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 next year or ever again. He might not even hit 20 and drive in 70. That's what the Yankees need and that's not what Headley is going to give them. He's going to give them great defense, he seems like a great clubhouse guy, he'll draw some walks and drive in a big run every now and then, but he's no offensive cornerstone. He's also an injury risk going forward and that's something the Yanks definitely don't need.
Not having Headley next year would make things more difficult, but the situation isn't as barren at the hot corner as it is at shortstop. The Yanks still have Martin Prado, they still have A-Rod, they have Jose Pirela, they just added Jonathan Galvez, and they can find another depth body or 2 anywhere. If Headley's 2012 production was more likely to be repeated or his back wasn't such a question mark, this post wouldn't exist. In all honesty, I really do want Headley on the team next year. Given his overall profile, however, and the now altered FA landscape, I'm not sure the Yankees really need to bring him back.
** UPDATE 12:43 PM- Heyman is saying the Yankees "have signaled a willingness" to make Headley a 3-year offer, so take that however you want. I'm not seeing the word "only", a reference to the team NOT being willing to give a 4th year, or a confirmation that they have made him an offer anywhere in the story, so I'm not going to put much into it. Stir that pot, Jonny Boy. Do your thing. **