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A Yankees Trade Possibility: Chase Headley

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Chase Headley diving. When did you last see A-Rod stretch like that? It was before you reached puberty, right?  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Chase Headley diving. When did you last see A-Rod stretch like that? It was before you reached puberty, right? (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Earlier, Jon Heyman wrote that seven teams (five named, two of the infamous "mystery" variety) had interest in Padres third baseman Chase Headley. I find Headley, 28, fascinating. A switch-hitter who plays good defense at third, he's only a .269/.347/.397 career hitter, but those rates come with a massive caveat otherwise known as Petco Park. He's a career .235/.326/.341 hitter at home, but on the road his career rates stand at .299/.366/.445. This year he has hit .267/.366/.370 at Petco, .275/.378/.471 on the road.

Headley hits decently from both sides of the plate. Considering him only away from San Diego, he's a career .308/.384/.455 hitter against right-handed pitchers, .279/.324/.423 against left-handed pitchers. He's also relatively inexpensive and, though arbitration-eligible, will not reach free agency until after the 2014 season. These last factors mean that the Padres, should they chose to make Headley available as they wend their way through a likely 100-loss season, could ask for a big pile of prospects in return.

Nonetheless, should the Yankees be interested?

As you well know, starting third baseman Alex Rodriguez is signed through the end of time. However, he’s 36, and even though he hasn’t embarrassed himself on defense this year, he’s hardly Brooks Robinson out there and can be counted upon to only get worse. Further, he has been the designated hitter in over a quarter of his starts this year, leaving third base in the hands of Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, and Jayson Nix.

Chavez has done a very nice job of approximating his 2005-2007 level of production, when he had slipped off his 2001-2004 peak, but was still viable. Thirty-four years old and always a sneeze away from the disabled list, Chavez can be relied upon neither in the short nor the long term.

What I’m suggesting here is that although the Yankees would seem to have third base well-covered for the moment, acquiring Headley would be a move both for this year and the two years remaining before he reaches free agency. In the short term, he could alternate at third base and designated hitter with A-Rod against right-handed pitching, with Rodriguez manning the hot corner against the southpaws.

This would also have the advantage of making Raul Ibanez redundant. Headley has experience playing left field—when he came up he was blocked the great Kevin Kouzmanoff—and while he was hardly Tris Speaker out there, I think it’s fair to say he can play the position as well as Ibanez can.

The average major league third baseman is hitting just .259/.322/.417 this year. A Headley would be a way to keep the position a strong one as A-Rod becomes ever more a DH, Chavez falls away, and the farm system remains unable to compensate—Dante Bichette Jr. is awhile away and may not come as a third baseman, if he comes at all.

The Yankees may have bigger needs right now—a catcher with a live bat certainly wouldn’t hurt—but maybe this is another way to deepen the team both for now and tomorrow.