With A-Rod only missing up to nine weeks due to his hip injury, some might think it imprudent to deal for a replacement. After all, that would entail sending away what could be valuable parts to get a guy who will fill in for a month and then be relegated to bench duty. Then again, there are some in Yankeeland who want to see the bench improve, and this could provide a means to do so. Deal for a capable player who can hold down third base for a month, and once A-Rod is back use him as a player who can give other guys on the Yanks’ aging offense a day off or two.
A few commenters at RAB favored signing Eric Hinske before he landed in Pittsburgh. So what if there was a player comparable to Hinske who would just might be available right now? Via MLBTR, we hear the beginnings of a Mark Teahen to the Yanks rumor. It does make sense. The Royals don’t quite have a spot for Teahen, who has been bounced around the diamond the past few years. He came up as a third baseman, but moved around the corner outfield spots to accommodate for top prospect Alex Gordon. First base is occupied by Mike Jacobs, and behind him are Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka-aihue. The acquisition of Coco Crisp moves David DeJesus to left, and Jose Guillen and his contract are a lock in right. Even the DH spot is filled by (the lighter) Billy Butler.
The Royals plan at this point is to try out Teahen at second, but there is no guarantee that he can man the position on a daily basis. If he can’t handle it, a trade is the most likely scenario. The Yankees have a need at third base, and could later use Teahen to fill in at the corner outfields, and he could probably play second base in a pinch. This means that the Yankees wouldn’t be acquiring him just for a month of service. He can be a utility player and a bat off the bench once A-Rod returns to action.
The problem is that the Yankees will already have a backup corner outfielder in whoever loses the right field job between Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. It would be tough to find at bats for one of those guys and for Teahen. It would help out a ton if Mark could handle shortstop, but there’s no evidence that he can. That means Cody Ransom is still needed — he’d have to be the utility infielder for the first month, anyway, but he’d be needed afterward to cover most of the infield.
Despite the lack of definitive playing time for Teahen beyond April, he’d immediately give the Yankees one of the most formidable benches in the league. Say Nick Swisher wins the RF job. The Yanks would then have Nady as a big righty on the bench and Teahen as a big lefty. Ransom and Molina would fill the other two bench spots. Both Swisher and Damon could cover center in the late innings, so there would be little hesitation to pinch hit for Melky or Gardner.
While the price tag on Teahen is unknown, it likely wouldn’t be too high. He’s slated to make $3.75 million this season. This might not seem like a lot to the Yankees, but to the Royals, who are at a $75 million payroll and would like to get to around $70, it could mean plenty — especially if he’s relegated to bench duty. A prospect and salary relief should do the job, though Royals GM Dayton Moore, quoted in the linked article, says he hopes for the Yanks to pick up Mark Grudzielanek, which would net his team a sandwich pick.
Given the month the Yanks will miss A-Rod, coupled with the risk that he could re-injure the hip at some point during the season, taking on Mark Teahen for one year would be a good idea. Not only would he give the Yankees an adequate short-term replacement, but once A-Rod is back he’d become part of a solid bench. He’d give the Yankees a late-inning left handed option, as well as someone who can spell players at four, maybe five positions (both corner OF, 3B, 1B, 2B). It sounds like a win-win for the team. The only issue is of what they’re willing to give up to make it happen.