Last night, the Yankees and Kevin Youkilis agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract. Youkilis, 33, posted a line of .235/.336/.409 with 19 HRs in roughly 500 plate appearances for the Red Sox and White Sox last season. Last season was arguably Youkilis’ worst season and the second straight season where his production declined. However, Youkilis excelled hitting against last handed pitching, collecting eight homers in just 120 at-bats. The biggest downside surrounding Youkilis’ acquisition isn’t his beef with Joba Chamberlain—it’s his durability. Youkilis hasn’t appeared in 125 games since 2009 and has made five trips to the disabled list in the last four seasons. Youkilis suffers from chronic lower back problems, so the Yankees cannot pencil him in as their everyday third baseman while A-Rod rehabs. Youkilis is solid defensively, but his back problems definitely stymie his range. Between Youkilis and Jeter, the Yankees won’t have the most nimble left side in baseball.
I’m not going to get into the ’emotional’ side of the trade because I don’t care. Yankee fans didn’t have any problem rooting for Babe Ruth, Rogers Clemens, or even, gulp Johnny Damon, so I don’t expect anything different from Youkilis. If the dude performs, he won’t believe the love Yankee fans will shower him with.
After signing Youkilis, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and probably Ichiro to one-year deals, the Yankees are clearly trying to get below $189 million salary target by 2014. Josh Hamilton still looms as a free agent target, but given the Yankees ironic, frugal nature, they’ll probably pass on him.