Yankees free agent target: Jhonny Peralta

Rob Carr

Despite his connection to Biogenesis, Jhonny Peralta is arguably the best shortstop on the market.

The Yankees have been incredibly fortunate over the last decade to have one of the best shortstop-third base tandems in Major League Baseball. Alex Rodriguez has two MVP awards and a Postseason MVP to his name while Derek Jeter has two top three finishes, and there has only been one season where neither of them finished in at least the Top 15 (2011).

Awards are obviously not the best way to judge a player, but it's simply a quick way to confirm the obvious – that the Yankees have gotten a lot of production from those respective positions for a long period of time. This past season showed how heavily the Yankees offense has relied on that, especially while we watched the likes of Eduardo Nunez and Luis Cruz attempt to play like competent major leaguers.

The fact of the matter is, the time where we could take Jeter and A-Rod for granted is over. Despite the fact that both men are under contract, the left side of the Yankees infield is about as big a question mark right now as the future of Robinson Cano. Jeter has long since been a defensive liability and his surgically repaired ankle led to multiple nagging injuries that made it impossible for him to stay on the field in 2013. A-Rod is going to play third base for the Yankees again at some point, but it'll be up to an arbitrator whether it'll be on Opening Day, mid-2015, or somewhere in the middle. The Yankees may not find out the final decision for a while.

Due to the question marks surrounding their aging left side, the team could be looking at signing a player to reinforce the positions if for no other reason than to make sure it isn't Jayson Nix playing full time if/when Jeter and A-Rod can't go. One of those options could be Tigers' shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

Peralta had one of his best offensive seasons of his career this year, hitting for a .303/358/.457 line with a 123 wRC+ in 107 games while being well above average defensively. For a bigger sample size, here are his numbers the past three seasons:

2011: .299/.345/.478, 122 wRC+, 21 HR, 68 RBI, 16.7 UZR, 4.9 WAR

2012: .239/.305/.384. 86 wRC+, 13 HR, 58 RBI, 18.0 UZR, 2.5 WAR

2013: .303/.358/.457, 123 wRC+, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 8.3 UZR, 3.6 WAR

He's had two very strong seasons sandwiched between a down year in 2012, though even his 2012 was better than almost all the shortstops and third basemen for the Yankees this season. He has consistently proven to be an excellent defensive shortstop and was above average at third base as well the last time he played the position consistently.

Peralta is 31 years old and is set to be a free agent. His contract with the Tigers was a two year, $11.25 million deal with an option for 2013 (which was obviously picked up). Looking at it statistically, Peralta should be looking at a raise after three solid seasons in Detroit. Unfortunately for him, his connection to Biogenesis could complicate his value and his next contract. He may have gotten some value back with his strong postseason performance, but it's impossible to tell what the market will be for him when free agency begins.

We have no idea what the Yankees infield will look like in 2014, but under the right circumstances Jhonny Peralta is someone worth looking into. He's a right handed bat with some power and is a huge upgrade defensively, and he gives the Yankees at least one sure thing on the left side of their infield going into next season. Even if Jeter and A-Rod are both available and healthy on Opening Day, chances are it won't stay that way the whole season. Yes, he was connected to Biogenesis, but frankly the Yankees aren't in a position where they can afford to put moral ethics over the good of their team. He served his punishment and it's time to move on from that. If Peralta is available at a reasonable price and he can help them win games, then at the very least it's worth taking a look.

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