Today’s weekend mailbag question pertains to a potential replacement for Eric Chavez if he doesn’t rejoin the Yankees in 2012. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.
J-Bone asks: Mike Aviles is listed as a non-tender candidate on MLBTR. In the event that Eric Chavez retires or signs elsewhere, what do you think of Aviles as a replacement?
Good question, J-Bone. Let’s take a look.
As a point of comparison, in 2011, an effective (albeit fragile) Eric Chavez provided the Yankees with some solid bench depth. When he was able to keep himself on the field, he routinely flashed slick defensive ability. The veteran third basemen also produced decent production with the bat (especially early on in the season). Over 175 total plate appearances, he batted .263/.320/.356 (.294 wOBA). His efforts were valued at a 0.6 fWAR, all for the reasonable cost of $1.5M.
In 2011, Mike Aviles had a productive season as well as he spent time with both the Royals and the Red Sox. In 309 total plate appearances, Aviles’ provided a respectable .255/.289/.409 triple slash (.307 wOBA) with seven homeruns. Although Aviles did manage a handful of long balls last season, he’s definitely not known for showing consistent power (career .151 ISO). To Aviles’ credit though, he made decent contact (14 K%) although he rarely drew the walk (4.2 BB%).
Aviles has only been in the league since 2008 so he still has several more years of arbitration eligibility; his $0.64M earned last season would also be a mere drop in the bucket for the Yankees.
Personally, I’m fairly impartial on this one. Bench players generally have noticeable flaws in their game and Aviles is no different; he is what he is. He’ll occasionally get wood on the ball and he’ll provide serviceable defense at third. With too much exposure, he’ll likely be a detriment to the team overall. Is he better than a guy like Pena? Probably. Is he better than some of the other potential depth options on the market? Meh.
Basically, if the Yankees decide to roll the dice on Aviles, I’d be fine with it given his price and skill set. That said, if they passed him over for another option, I wouldn’t lose sleep either. In any event, I’m guessing the Yankees 2012 campaign probably won’t hinge on a backup infielder one way or another.