The offseason is well underway, and the Yankees have made it clear that they are interested in trading Brian McCann now that Gary Sanchez is set to be the starting catcher. The Yankees are also open to trading Brett Gardner, but those aren’t the only players who could wind up on a new team before April. Yesterday Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees are also open to trading Chase Headley.
The Yankees originally acquired Headley from the Padres prior the trade deadline in 2014. He immediately made an impact, hitting a walk-off RBI single during his very first game with the Yankees. After the 2014 season ended, the Yankees signed Headley to a 4-year deal worth $52 million. Headley struggled defensively during his first full season with the Yankees, but he showed improvement in that area in 2016. His slash line has been nearly identical over the past three seasons, yet the Yankees haven’t really gotten the production from Headley that they would have liked.
While it is all well and good for the Yankees to say that they are interested in trading Headley, it seems like it would be more difficult to find a new home for him than it would be for McCann or Gardner. Headley still has two years left on his contract, and is set to make $26 million over the next two seasons. He is an okay player, but he finished both 2015 and 2016 with 92 wRC+.
If the Yankees happened to find a buyer for Headley, they would be faced with the challenge of finding a replacement third baseman. Ronald Torreyes was the Yankees’ primary backup at third last year. He finished the season hitting .258/.305/.374 through 72 games, which is fine for a backup, but Torreyes wouldn’t be an upgrade over Headley, and his numbers over a full season could be ugly.
Another option could be Rob Refsnyder, who now has 27 games at third under his belt as part of an effort to increase his versatility. His defense has always been somewhat questionable, but it proved to be even worse at the hot corner, so he certainly can’t serve in a starting role there. The only other player currently on the 40-man roster with third base experience is Tyler Austin. Granted he only has played 35 games at third base during his minor league career, and Brian Cashman has already said that he will compete with Greg Bird for the first base role.
The Yankees could also turn to the free agent market to find a new third baseman. Although this year’s free agent class is not very strong in general, Justin Turner is coming off of a great season and he is available. Turner hit .275/.339/.493 with 27 home runs with the Dodgers last season. The only potential downside to signing Turner is that he rejected a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, so he would cost the Yankees a draft pick. Turner will likely end up with a new contract in the four or five year range, and could earn up to $85 million.
Do you think the Yankees should trade Headley if they can find any takers? If yes, would you like to see them sign Turner, or try to fill the position internally?