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Was the Chase Headley contract a mistake?

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago today the Yankees signed third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million deal. Headley had been coveted by the team for a few years before Cashman traded Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula to San Diego at the 2014 Trade Deadline to finally get Headley in pinstripes. The audition went well and signing Headley seemed like a no-brainer. Alex Rodriguez was returning from a long suspension and nearing 40 years old, which didn't suit playing third base every day anymore. None of the third base options the Yankees had on the farm were promising enough to trust with a starting spot. Headley seemed like the only logical choice, as Pablo Sandoval was his biggest (heh) competition on the free agent market.

Free agency has been the Yankees' way of supplementing an underwhelming farm system over the years, but those contracts have turned ugly at various points. The market for players generally overpays them in years to provide security, so you have to give Carlos Beltran a three-year deal to play right field even when his body is no longer up to the task. That's just the price of doing business these days. Usually the team can bank on the first couple years of the deal being a success to make up for some cringe-worthy parts at the end, but the opposite played out for Headley in the first year of his deal. He had the worst season of his career thus far both at the plate and in the field. He crushed his previous high in errors after inexplicably developing something that looked an awful lot like the yips.

Headley is still young enough to turn things around for the next couple years of his contract. Hopefully he has worked out the kinks in his defense for a resurgent season in 2015. It's still too soon to judge the deal as a total failure, especially when the Yankees were pretty much without an alternative at the position. It is very possible that the deal goes down as another bad one in the history of bad deals, but that is the risk of having to dive into the free agent market. The farm system has started to look more promising recently, giving the team more of a choice when it comes to deciding to bite the bullet on big contracts with uncertain futures. In the grand scheme of things, even a bad four-year deal won't tank things too badly. At least they didn't sign Sandoval.