Scouting The Trade Market: 3B Replacements

The great Cano vs. Pedroia debate
Taking stock of the farm system

The procedure to repair the torn meniscus in Alex Rodriguez‘s knee might have gone just fine, but he’s still going to miss at least a month while he recovers. Maybe he’ll come back relatively quickly, as he did from his hip surgery in 2009, but that will make only a small dent. The Yanks will still need to fill plenty of at-bats in his absence. The smart money is on them using Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, and maybe even Brandon Laird, but there’s a chance they could look outside the organization for help.

As I said in yesterday’s first half review post, third base is a rough position currently (and it’s even worse in the NL). That’s going to dampen the market considerably. Since the Yankees only need a replacement for a month, and since they have a few in-house guys, chances are they won’t swing a deal. But if they did, it would likely be for a player who can help them in areas after A-Rod returns. Here are four specifically.

Wilson Betemit

Pros: He’s completely useless to the Royals, as they sit in last place and have a promising rookie, Mike Moustakas, manning the hot corner. Betemit is currently hitting .285.345/.415, good for a .327 wOBA, which ranks 12th among third basemen with at least 220 PA. He’s a free agent after this year, and so requires no future commitment. He can also play second in a pinch, and has played the outfield as recently as 2010.

Cons: After a hot start he’s dropped off a bit since the start of June, hitting .220/.238/.325. Of course, that’s also when the Royals yanked him from his starting gig in favor of Moustakas; he has gotten just 42 PA since June 1. He’s also not a very good defender at third. Having seen Betemit for parts of two seasons, we know that he works in fits and starts. If he continues slumping after the Yanks acquire him, it will be a complete waste.

Omar Infante

Pros: He’s a free agent following this season, and since Florida is out of the race they’ll probably be very open to dealing him. While he has played second base exclusively this year, he can play all around the diamond; he has played SS, LF, 3B, and RF as recently as 2010, and CF as recently as 2009. He’s a qualify infielder by most measures, making him a viable utility candidate once A-Rod returns.

Cons: After a torrid 2010 season, he’s crashed considerably in 2011, a .269 wOBA. He does have a .274 BABIP, though, which is considerably below his .308 career mark. He might not be great, but he can probably be around a league average hitter with a BABIP in line with his career mark.

Jeff Baker

Pros: For the past three-plus seasons Baker has established himself as a league-average hitter. His wRC+ has been between 96 and 102 since 2008. He also has an above-average BABIP, which suggests, but does not conclude, that he can spray line drives and dunk in singles. He has played every position except center field and catcher this year, making him a good fit for the team even after A-Rod returns. At just $1.175 million this year, and with one year left before free agency, he could be a decent, if slightly expensive, utility option in 2012. The Yankees can afford that.

Cons: While he’s currently enjoying a typically average year, he’s doing it with a much higher BABIP, .379, and much lower walk rate, 2.9 percent, than previously in his career. This could easily be a fluke, since he has just 138 PA this year. Give the results from his 800-plus PA from 2008-2010, he could even out even as his BABIP drops. He appears to be a merely average fielder, which does not exactly befit a utility player.

Jeff Keppinger

Pros: Like Baker, Keppinger is a pretty much average hitter. Even as a full-time player in 2010 he produced a 105 wRC+. While he’s a second baseman by necessity for the Astros this year, he can play all around the infield, though he has just 22.2 career innings in the outfield. He has just four years of service time, and could be back in 2012 as the utility man.

Cons: He makes $2.3 million this year, which is already a bit step for a utility player. A raise will make it tougher to justify him as a backup, even on the Yankees. He hasn’t hit for much power in his career, a .108 ISO, and that includes .105 in 2010 and .081 in 2008, which are his only years with 120-plus games played. Defensive metrics rate him as below average at all positions, which, again, doesn’t bode well for a utility player.

Again, I don’t expect the Yankees to make a move for one of these players, or any other third base replacement. But if any of them is available at a reasonable price in the next two weeks we could see a move. Any of these players could serve a utility role after A-Rod returns, and would be a better fit than a straight third baseman. Given the options I’d have to go with Baker. He seems to be the best combination glove and bat on the list.

The great Cano vs. Pedroia debate
Taking stock of the farm system
  • Daniel

    i dont think a trade is rlly prudent

    • tono73

      Most “Logic”answer..i have to agree with u.”No Trade”,Keep what we have & find a way to use them by cleaning up some of the “Trash”that’s sitting around doing “Nothing”..

  • ItsATarp

    What no David Wright mention? JK …i rather just keep nunez seems he seems to be a league avg/ above avg bat. And 3rd base might be a better fit for his arm and range.

    • China Joe

      I think he could be a league average bat at SS…at 3B is another story

  • Xstar7

    Cody. Ransom.

    Find him Cashman, you know you want to.

    • tono73

      that’ll never fly cause Cards won’t let him go.Cashman will sell the farm for him..oooooooops wait just in:Cashman called & stated “NO WAY”,CODY’S tooooooo young.would have to wait until he reaches (38)yrs.old.befor he give’s thought..

  • PSizzle

    What about Michael Cuddyer? He’s a free agent after the season, and the guy can really hit and plays pretty tight defense too. Also, after A-Rod comes back, Cuddyer could fill in at 3B, 1B, and in the OF occasionally. Also, he would provide some power off the bench (a definite upgrade over Andrew Jones).

    • Jericho Spade

      Cuddyer would be a guy to go after, if anyone. His salary is a high though, so that is a consideration. And he also can play corner outfield and 1st if necessary, which means they could dump Jones in the process.

      I am really fine with a Laird/Nunez platoon though, with Laird playing against lefties.

      • steve s

        FWIW: I love Cuddyer but when I mentioned him a few months ago (when Swisher was slumping) there was not a lot of love for him out there by some of the RAB regular commentators plus they sort of pooh-poohed his infield versatility. Since he is now having a very good year his price has certainly gone up since May. On Betemit, although I can’t give you a written reference, I understand that he was a guy that the Yanks were not enamored with for off the field reasons and would not take back under any circumstances.

        • Rick in Boston

          Cuddyer’s IF versatility is rooted in the fact he was drafted as a SS and played 2B/3B on his way up. He hasn’t played that much a 3B recently, though. He played about two weeks worth of games at the position last year, but only played 3B regularly back in 2004.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Cuddyer is actually too good to be listed here, that’s the problem. He’s a legit everyday starter, and as such, he’ll cost a legit prospect.

      Betemit, Keppinger, Baker, Infante et. al. are marginal players who should probably be backups but can handle a month of starting, so they’re ideal for our needs and will be much cheaper.

    • tono73

      u-are sooooooo rgt. about that..would be a great pick-up but as we know,Cashman will not go there..

  • Tom Zig

    There’s always the uber-expensive Aramis Ramirez

    • Bill

      Worth exploring, but yea he’ll probably be too expensive and will more likely be traded to a team that needs a 3B for the duration of the season. That said the Yankees have an advantage over a lot of other teams if they’re willing to pick up salary. I’ve heard reports that no one is willing to pick up salary. Hard to see the Cubs giving him away though. It’ll still cost a decent price.

  • Hester Prynne

    LOL! Why don’t we just trade Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit? We don’t need anyone. People always cry about not developing and playing our prospects in the majors and now that we’ve got a chance to play one more we’ve gotta go out and get yet another stop gap. A 4-6 week stop gap, not worth it. Give the kid a chance.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Agree. We have improved our cleanup spot with the HR Derby champ. We have improved our team speed and no longer have a controversy about who is batting 9th.

      Eddie Nunez solves all problems. We win when he plays (and our pitching continues as it has).

      • Hester Prynne

        He doesn’t solve all problems, he’s a fill in for a month. Does Betemit solve all problems? He’s a joke. Nunez can do as well as these clowns and he costs nothing.

      • Cris Pengiuci

        Yeah! With ARod out and Dunez in, we’re sure to win plenty of games. It’s been proven! Let ARod stay on the DL as long as he likes!

        I realize that’s really not what you’re saying. I agree Nunez is as good as any of these guys for a short time, or at least provides as much (if not more) value. However, that leaves Pena as the BU IF. If someone else goes down, it could be ugly. So, for the right price, I could see the Yankees making a move. They just shouldn’t spend much in terms of prospects and need someone with the versatility to help out after ARod’s return. A rental seems to be best.

        • Cris Pengiuci


    • tono73

      Give the “Kids”a chance..that’s what i’ve been saying & i’ll say it again,”Cashman”for some reason does’nt want to hear it.he’d rather use them in a trade.we have a great farm system,for what??

  • Jorge

    I’ll take Nunez and the combination of an arena football net behind Tex and/or Keith Olbermann’s mother in the stands. Thank you.

  • Monteroisdinero

    The problem is that Noony’s throws are wild high. If they were wild low like ARod and Jeter’s have been, then Tex scoops most of them up. Get ’em down Noony.

    • tono73

      Personally i like “Nooney”.what i think is u have to play him every day & i think this is a perfect spot to do it..with his arm,what do u feel putting him in either cornerin the outfld.? the kid has a strong arm..

  • David, Jr.

    Go with Nunez. He can do the job. The errors that he has made can easily be corrected, and they have caused people to look past his positives, namely his bat and his speed.

    • Jim S

      The errors he’s made have been with him since the day he started playing professional baseball. They may be able to be corrected, but at this point it’s pretty clear that it’s not an easy correction.

      • David, Jr.

        He is going to be an above average MBL infielder. Book it.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Melky + IPK for Keppinger. Final offer.

    • Xstar7

      No way. Melky is the next Bernie Williams, remember?

      • Oscar Gamble’s ‘Fro

        Have you seen Melky’s numbers this year?!?!? He’s on his way! Get the Milk Man a guitar!

        • Xstar7

          I would buy 53 copies of his album.

  • Accent Shallow

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Betemit (with Nunez replacing him for D), but I think he’s superfluous. Might as well see what they have in Nunez.

  • http://RAB Josh

    Why no mention of Melvin Mora?

    Got released by ARZ 2 weeks ago. Pretty sure he still has the solid glove he had in BAL, and has a little pop in his bat.

  • Monteroisdinero

    If we can get one of the above guys who can also play OF, I am ready to throw in the towel on Andruw Rudolf! Jones.

    He stinks.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder
      • Monteroisdinero

        Not off topic if the acquisition plays 3rd as well. Nothing was said about Greg Golson in my comment but, of course, since you mentioned it, Golson will do something good for us this year. Too bad it won’t be until September.

        Relax on Golson-have a Molson.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      As long as he can hit lefties, I’m with ya!

    • tono73

      i agree with u 150%.they had no business bringing Jonesy here.get rid of him.we have tooooooo many dead weight’s sitting around.some have to go.make rm.for the new breed…

  • Brooklyn Ed

    If I remembered correctly, wasn’t Keppinger close to being traded to the Yanks then fell through because he needed surgery?

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Basically all of these guys are probable upgrades over the Nuñez/Peña/Laird young bucks we have, but not large enough upgrades to surrender anything of actual value for.

    So, call all the teams above and say they can have anything from the Jorge Vazquez/Jordan Parraz/Greg Golson/Kevin Russo/Pants Lendleton/Kanekoa Texeira grab bag they want for their backup 3B. If someone bites, lovely. If not, roll with the kids.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    How about Jamey Carroll on the Dodgers. His salary is under $2m, he gets on base at a decent clip (.368 OBP this year, career .357) and seems decent in the field. Hes also a veteran with a solid reputation for being a good team player, so should be no attitude concerns like the ones about Betemit mentioned above.

  • Cuso

    Ty Wiggly


    It is so funny how no one mentions Jorge Vazquez coming into the year… then he crushes in spring, and the beginning of the season. Then everyone is saying bring him up….then he doesnt hit, and he is back to nobody. Chato was only in a slump because he was hitting for a coulple of weeks with a sore shoulder!!!! He is back and healthy and will crush again. He should be up spliting time with Nunez, spotting Tex, and Posada. He will crush in New York too. He is ready!! And I am sick of reading that he cant hit curves. Half of his HR’s have been off curves. Including the other day when he crushed a nasty curve. Go watch it, you will see. He is more playable at third than Nunez. Edwardo’s middle name is ERROR! Vazquez might not have as much range, but he will make the plays… 1.000% at limited time at third. And .995% with over 500 chances at first. Laird is not ready, and will be nervous. Plus he has half the power of Vazquez. And, I might be wrong, but I think there is room on the 40man for him. If not, there are plenty of minor moves that can be done!!! Bring Chato up!!!!!!

    • Monteroisdinero

      Much prefer Chato to Andruw Jones off the bench but it won’t happen. We would do just fine with Chato up and Andruw gone.

      •!/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

        If you think Andruw Jones and his strikeouts are bad, HA. You’ve got another thing coming. Vazquez would strikeout twice for every plate appearance…

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          It’s Monteroisdinero.

    • tono73

      u know,u are absolutely correct.why was’nt he(Vassy)brought-up?answer:Cashman?it seem’s to me that he is the only G/M without b###s..i guess Cashy thought he had a gem in Jonesy.i don’t mean to sound like i hate this guy,cause i don’t.but Cashy needs to understand that his time(jones)has come to move aside & to give the younger one’s who have the “potential”a shot..jones in his day was “Great”for the Braves.can’t take that away from him.i wonder what’s going to happen to the “Terrible B’s”when they are ready.(trade bate)??????

  • http://none Favrest

    I think we could use a right handed bat as well as a 3B. If it can be the same guy, and Wigginton is available, I’d make a call to the Rockies. He knows this division. After watching Xavier Nady embarrass himself, I’ve come to appreciate the guys who are comfortable playing here and Fenway. Also, Omar Infante and Jamie Carroll are intriguing because we already have so much power and so few table setters.

  • j

    Adam Kennedy will likely be shopped

  • j

    Adam Kennedy on the M’s

  • j

    Adam Kennedy is likely available

  • Bronx Bomber

    I don’t want any of these over-priced clowns. Let Nunez play third, send down Pena, and bring up Brandon Laird. They can hold down the fort until A-Rod is ready.

    • tono73

      i “AGREE”with why can’t “Cashman”see this??maybe we should be shopping 4-a new “G./M.instead of “Pitching/3rd.base???