Prior to the 1998 season the Yankees found themselves with a giant question mark at third base. At 39 years old Wade Boggs was deemed expendable following the 1997 season and his platoon mate Charlie Hayes was traded to the San Francisco Giants for organizational depth in a cost-cutting move. In order to fill the gap at third the team officially made Scott Brosius the player to be named later in a trade with the Oakland A's that had sent Kenny Rogers out of town shortly after the World Series. Rogers was a disappointment in the Bronx and after his ERA ballooned to well over 5.00 nobody was sad to see him go. On the other hand, Brosius was coming off a year in which he slashed a putrid .203/.259/.317 and was by all accounts the worst everyday hitter in the American League. So this trade, the first ever orchestrated by Billy Beane, was really just an exchange of one problem for another on both sides. Regardless, the Yankees' third base job was Brosius' to lose.
Maybe a change of scenery was all he needed because at 31 years old, Brosius resurrected his career in a big way in 1998. He hit .300/.371/.472 with 19 home runs and 98 RBI for the World Champion Yankees and even saved his best for last. After pacing the Yankees with his bat in the first two rounds of the playoffs he took home the World Series MVP trophy by batting .471 with two home runs in the Fall Classic against the Padres. While it may have been unexpected, an outburst like this shouldn't have been that surprising for a player that had hit .304/.393/.516 with 22 home runs as recently as 1996. For the next three years, Brosius provided steady power with enough base hits to stay respectable offensively, though he did have an off-year in 2000 mixed in there. On top of that his glove rated as well above average for his entire Yankee career, taking home a Gold Glove in 1999. Add it up and he was worth an average of about two WAR per year as a Yankee, which was probably more than they thought they were getting, and good enough to help the team win the pennant each year.
While the current version of the Yankees is in much different shape than the one that was steamrolling into 1998, Chase Headley's story is very similar to the one just told about Brosius. Headley had a breakout year in 2012, hitting 31 home runs, leading the National League in RBI and earning the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove at third base in the process. However, his offensive production quickly took a nosedive and by the middle of 2014 he had an ugly .229/.296/.355 slash line. At that point, the Yankees and Padres decided to swap struggling third basemen as Yangervis Solarte was sent to San Diego. After donning the pinstripes, Headley found his way again. Thanks to a little bit of power, a whole lot of patience, and his usual steady glove he was one of the few bright spots for the Yankees down the stretch last year. Just like Brosius, it shouldn't have been a surprise considering how well he played just two years prior.
Based on that audition, the Yankees are convinced that Headley has his career back on track and will now pay him $52 million over the next four years to stick around. Again, much like Brosius, that keeps him in New York through his age 34 season. Therefore, if he continues to do his best Brosius impression, Headley should be worth at least two WAR per year over the life of the contract. That might not seem like much for the money he's earning, but smart people have estimated that the market cost of a win this off-season is somewhere between $5 and $7 million. A free agent signing whose on-field production equals his salary in the long-run would be a welcome addition to this team, so if Headley really becomes Brosius 2.0, it's a smart move by the Yankees.