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What should the Yankees do about shortstop next season?

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Yankees will be looking for a shortstop to start on Opening Day. Who takes the Captain's place?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Derek Jeter won the starting shortstop job in the spring training of 1996, the position that might be hardest to fill in Major League Baseball has been easy enough to set on the Yankee roster. Now with the Captain running off into retirement, who should Brian Cashman and the front office bring in to fill Jeter's cleats?

Stephen Drew

When the Yankees traded two months of Kelly Johnson for two months of Stephen Drew as a second baseman, the common theory was that this was also an audition for the 2015 shortstop job. It was widely rumored that the Yankees were interested in bringing in Drew on a two-year deal this offseason where he could play third base for a year and then slide over to his natural position, and it seemed like Cashman might have got his man after all during the trade deadline.

If this has been an audition though, so far Drew hasn't exactly put himself at the top of the callback sheet.  Yes, small sample size and all, but through his first 14 games with the Yankees, he's carried on his mediocre 2014 season with a triple slash line .167/.200/.250, and Baseball Reference has him pegged as a below replacement player (-0.1 WAR) in his time with the Bombers. Drew has historically been an above-average player, posting a 109 wRC+ as recently as 2013, which would be very positive production from a shortstop.

Unless he mounts a significant revival in the remaining weeks of the year, though, the only positive from his lost 2014 will likely be that he should come relatively cheap, which means re-signing Drew would not necessarily stop the Yankees continuing to look at options at short. He could compete for a starting role at second base with Martin Prado and anyone else the Yankees bring in there, while also providing solid infield depth everywhere else. Drew is probably a better than we've seen him be in 2014, but at some point missing spring training and the start of the year due to a contract dispute stops being an excuse to having a disaster of a year. The prospect of bringing him back for 2015 as the unquestioned starting shortstop isn't quite as appealing as it would have been this offseason, but it could easily end up being the option Cashman takes.

Free Agency

Shortstop is not the easiest position to fill in free agency, with the relatively few particularly good players at the position often locked up long before they hit the market. As it happens, the 2014-2015 offseason might actually have a couple of interesting names available at the position. The list includes Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, John McDonald, and Omar Quintanilla.

The name that jumps out from above is Ramirez. Hitters at the position don't get much better than Hanley, with his very solid 2014 slash line .277/.367/.455 actually representing below average production for his career. His 137 wRC+ is well in line with career norms. Over the best part of the last decade, Ramirez has reliably been a well above-average hitter and a well below-average fielder when healthy; he's about as known a quantity as there is at the position. The team that signs him, almost certainly the Dodgers but assuming he hits the market, may well have to move him to third base sooner rather than later to hide his appalling glove. Certainly there will be a need to adjust for the likelihood of Ramirez missing extended time due to injury throughout his next contract, especially as it will take him well into his late-thirties. Still, the appeal here is clear, a middle-of-the-order bat at a position that for most teams is an offensive black hole.

Then there's J.J. Hardy. A first look at his statistics on the year and the home run numbers (or lack thereof) appears to be an obvious red flag. Having hit 25 home runs last year and 77 in his first three years with the Orioles, Hardy has hit just six dingers so far this year. The lack of power hasn't dragged down his overall production too much, however. His 96 wRC+ indicates a player who is just below-average with the bat, something he makes up for with his solid defense at short. He'll come cheaper than Hanley, and it's more likely that he'll hit the market given that the Orioles aren't the Dodgers and have the option of moving Manny Machado back to short. Hardy is also far more likely to actually stick at shortstop for the duration of his next contract, and there is always the possibility that his power outage is a one-year slump. It might be well worth finding out.

Promote From Within

The Yankees don't have any realistic options here, not for 2015 anyway. Cito Culver has fallen off the radar for the most part, held back by his lack of hitting. Abiatal Avelino and Jorge Mateo are turning heads further down in the minors, but both are multiple promotions away from making it into the big leagues. Tyler Wade is another name to pay attention to, and with luck one of these kids works their way up to the majors, or at least becomes a valuable trade asset. We may not see any of them in the Bronx until 2017 though, at the earliest.

The Yankees spent heavily on the international free agent crop, bringing in multiple shortstop prospects. The biggest name here is Dermis Garcia, and hopefully his is a name we hear more about over the next few seasons. Again though, don't expect to see him replace Jeter next year. It seems likely that the 2015 starting New York Yankees shortstop is already on a major league roster.

Derek Jeter/Alex Rodriguez

Yes, Derek Jeter has already announced his retirement, and yes, his eventual statue in Monument Park will have more range than him in the field next season and possibly more pop with the bat as well. Wouldn't it be fun to get him to come out of retirement though, just to see how people react? Would the various teams ask for their gifts back? Would fans in away grounds boo instead of cheer? Would Michael Jordan and Nike produce a less flattering version of #RE2PECT?

Otherwise, maybe it's time to move Alex Rodriguez back to his natural position. After all, he only moved to third base to make room for the Captain in the first place; now that the Captain is leaving us it's time to move the Centaur back. The idea of replacing #2 with #13 will probably make so many people so indignant that we'd still be sifting through angry ESPN clips and newspaper editorials long after A-Rod has broken down and gone back to the disabled list. That would probably make spring training more interesting next season.

Which option would you like to see the team take?