2013 statistics: 28 games, 118 plate appearances, .219/.305/.343, 2 HR, 78 RC+, -0.4 fWAR
2014 contract status: Free agent
Last off-season Kevin Youkilis was free to choose any team he wanted to play for. Only one of those teams had a fan base that would instantly hate his guts should he decide to sign with them. Enter a $12 million offer from Brian Cashman and, sure enough, Youkilis joined that very team. Right on cue, the more passionate among Yankee fans voiced their displeasure with the acquisition. They now had to root for the guy with the annoying batting stance who was a key contributor to the Red Sox' first World Series win in 86 years and had famously feuded with the Yankees' own Joba Chamberlain, among others, for years. The whole thing was a bummer, man.
Despite its unpopularity, the signing did make baseball sense. Alex Rodriguez was going to miss at least half the season due to surgery and free agents Eric Chavez and Jeff Keppinger had signed elsewhere, leaving the Yankees desperate for a third baseman. Even if he was clearly in decline and having injury issues himself, Youkilis was far and away the best third baseman left on the market. As a patient hitter with some pop throughout his career, he was a welcome addition to a lineup that was looking pretty anemic going into the season. In fact, after the injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira it looked as though he would have to bat cleanup on most nights.
If signing Kevin Youkilis made sense in theory, in practice it was disastrous. After a decent couple weeks to start the season, his play then faltered due to a back injury that eventually put him on the disabled list before the season was a month old. He returned to the team for a two week stretch at the beginning of June and his performance was even worse than it had been before his time off. Clearly still feeling the effects of his injury, he returned to the DL and stayed there for the rest of the season. For their $12 million, the Yankees got 28 games worth of below replacement-level play from Youkilis in 2013. The only thing we learned from this experiment gone horribly wrong is that he is, was, and always will be toxic to the Yankees. The fans were right on this one, so let's hit the reset button and forget it ever happened.