Chase Headley had what can be best described as a mediocre season, and it is clear that the MVP candidate Headley of 2012 is not coming back, contrary to what the Yankees had hoped for. Most likely, the Yankees have on their hands a third baseman with a good glove, a decent arm when accurate, and an average bat for the final two years of his fairly economical contract.
Headley doesn’t possess the glamour that many power hitting third basemen do around the league, which certainly hurts his image. His 2016 Roster Report Card sparked some debate over Headley’s worth to the Yankees moving forward, and if he should even be a part of the Yankees future plans. Regardless of your viewpoint, the reality is that Headley is here to stay, at least until his contract is up.
This is a new era for the Yankees, and not one of infinite spending and slapping band-aids all over the field. Headley is under contract through 2018, which makes the idea of signing a free agent to man the hot corner very unlikely to happen. Signing a third baseman while still having one on the books for 26 million dollars is very counterproductive to what Hal Steinbrenner wants to accomplish. The front office is focused on 2018, when the mega free agent class emerges and hopefully finds the Yankees under the luxury tax mark and ready to spend.
Until then, Headley isn’t going anywhere. He is not seen as anywhere near enough of a liability to dump him and eat his remaining salary. He seemed to rediscover his fielding abilities this season after a rocky 2015 campaign, and if you rule out the month of April, he had a decent year at the plate. The Yankees will look at this and determine that the best course of action is to let Headley play out his contract, since there seems to be nobody close behind him within the organization to take his place as of yet.
Gone are the days where the Yankees were in play for every available free agent. Don’t expect Cashman to run into the winter with handfuls of cash. The new conservative look of the Yankees front office will keep Headley at third base in 2017, and look to the likes of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Greg Bird to provide the power for the Bombers.
Perhaps injury could change the plan for the Yankees, given the fact that Headley does have some back issues, which could get really messy when it comes to the violent torque of swinging a bat. Still, if Headley badly struggles with performance or health, don’t expect a 2004 situation where a suddenly injured Aaron Boone is replaced by the best offensive player in the game in the blink of an eye.
Headley doesn’t have the offensive appeal of other third baseman in the league, and there is no denying that it is normally a pivotal position to produce runs from. After all, the top three third baseman in the league in OBP this year were Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant, and Jose Ramirez, respectively. All three are fighting for a spot in the World Series. However, despite the fact that Headley doesn’t have the home run or RBI numbers of third basemen on winning teams, he is not seen as a black hole in the lineup by Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi. Headley is what he is: an average ballplayer, and the Yankees are okay with that right now.
The Yankees are moving away from the “Evil Empire” persona for now, and letting the youth movement materialize while other contracts expire. Get used to seeing Headley at the hot corner because whether you like it or not, he is your third baseman for 2017.