As a protracted battle in federal court appears inevitable in the seemingly infinite battle between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, it is becoming increasingly unclear if A-Rod will be able to play on Opening Day 2014. Even if he can, and even if Derek Jeter is healthy and Robinson Cano stays in the Bronx, the Yankees need a utility infielder that can fill in when injuries strike (and, if there's anything we learned about 2013, it's that injuries will strike). If this infielder can hit, well, that would certainly be welcome, especially after a season spent watching the likes of Jayson Nix and David Adams struggle in the middle of the Yankee lineup.
Juan Uribe might just fit all of New York's needs.
Uribe has been a good defender throughout his career, posting above-average defensive numbers every year he's been in the big leagues (according to FanGraphs' "Fielding and Positional Adjustment combined" stat). He was especially good last year, leading the league in UZR/150, and his skill is magnified by his ability to play multiple positions. Uribe has spent significant time at second base, third base, and shortstop throughout his career, although he's mainly played third in the last few seasons. This versatility would prove invaluable, as he could fill for any number of injuries that might occur in the infield. His experience at third would also make him a viable option to start the season there if Alex Rodriguez cannot play on Opening Day. While Uribe might not be an ideal everyday third baseman, he did do well for the Dodgers last season as just that. And it wasn't only because of his glove.
While he hit just .204 and .191 in limited action during the 2011 and 2012 season, Uribe had a resurgent year at the plate in 2013, hitting .278/.331/.438 with a 116 wRC+ and 50 RBI. He also posted a 5.1 fWAR in 2013. For his career, he's a .253/.299/.420 hitter, meaning he's probably in store for a bit of a decline in 2014. However, he definitely showed last season that he can still produce at the plate, all the while being stellar in the field, as he helped the Dodgers make the NLCS.
While he may get offers for more money and a starting spot elsewhere (Miami is apparently interested), if he wants a chance to play a meaningful role on a (fingers crossed) contender next season, the Yankees would be a prime destination. He's not that old (just 34), and he probably won't warrant more than a one or two-year deal. However, he may end up being more expensive than the Yankees are willing to spend on what they surely hope would mainly be just a bench/utility player.
Still, New York could certainly do a lot worse than having Uribe in this role, and it may be time to start planning on A-Rod not being the everyday third baseman next year. Uribe would be an ideal candidate; he could fill in admirably for Rodriguez , and when A-Rod (hopefully) returns, he'd remain a dependable option off the bench that could step up if/when the injury bug bites again.