The first feeling I had after the news had come down that the Yankees had signed wasn't excitement or joy: it was just a sense of relief. After the disaster that had been the Yankees 2014 infield I was not looking forward to the team resting its hopes on Jose Pirela or Robert Refsnyder at second base while waiting for the inevitable injury to shift Martin Prado away from third. It felt the team was just sort of "winging it" again in 2015, the same way they had hoped the glued together group of Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts would give them reasonable production with minimal commitment in 2014. The short contracts part certainly worked out, but the performance part (less than 1 fWAR combined) was one of the key parts in the Yankees failure to make the playoffs last year. As the front office seemingly sat in stasis during the Winter Meetings, it looked like more uncertainty would plague the infield corps in the coming year.
Some negotiations and a small fortune later, things don't look so bad for 2015. Headley is not an overly flashy solution or the middle of the order bat that this team most needs, but good players with versatility and relative youth certainly fill a need for this aged and injury-prone roster. With Didi Gregorious installed at shortstop and Martin Prado at second base the infield should be improved both offensively and defensively, with only Mark Teixeira remaining as the clear concern going into next season. At least Headley's ability to substitute in at first base should prevent the team from being totally unprepared when Teixeira's bum wrist causes his hand to fall off.
There will be some lamentation that this signing will block either Pirela or Refsnyder from getting an opportunity to play this year, but short of them getting traded this offseason I suspect they'll get opportunities to play. There's still plenty of age and injury history with this roster, so it's important the depth chart go 11-12 players deep with guys that aren't total stiffs. If they come in and are great then I think the Yankees "veteran obsession" will be a more relevant discussion. But obviously having too many good players would be a nice luxury to have to argue about, so here's hoping.
There's still a lot of maneuvering to be done for the Yankees to resemble anything more than a team hanging on the edge of playoff contention, starting with resolving the starting rotation. But I am pleased to see the steps the team has taken in trying to construct an infield that doesn't drag the team down like it did prior to a flurry of trades last year. A couple of wins here or there are what can make the difference for a fringe squad like New York, so loading up with replacement level players again would have been decidedly stupid. Being pleased with an infield of above average competency may seem like a case of lowered expectations, but after 2014's sorry group it's hard not to be.