While the Manny Machado sweepstakes are drawing to a close, the Yankees most definitely have a list of options to pivot towards if they don’t end up with the superstar shortstop. One of the names on that list should be Jose Iglesias, who has put together a good-but-not-great career up to this point.
Iglesias is almost exactly a league-average shortstop offensively, slashing .269/.310/.389 compared to the average shortstop line of .255/.314/.409, with five homers and 48 RBI. Despite this, he managed to compile a 2.2 bWAR season, so he isn’t a dead weight at the plate, and could contribute in spots to the bottom of the Yankees lineup.
The Yankees’ infield defense would also stand to gain from Iglesias, much like Adeiny Hechaverria was last season, and that value can extend even after Didi Gregorius returns. Iglesias has some major league experience at third base, and could be used as the backup infielder on the left side once he loses the starting role. Should the Yankees continue their strategy of replacing Miguel Andujar defensively late in games like they did in last year’s postseason, Iglesias could fit that role for them.
He will be 29 next year, but he even as Iglesias has progressed through his career, his defensive metrics have not fallen off. Defensive Runs Saved has rated him below average at short just once in his career, while UZR has even more glowing things to say about him, rating him 29 runs above average combined across the past three seasons. He has excellent hands and instincts, showcased here in a play he made this summer against the Royals:
Iglesias would also come at a low cost. He would be one of the more likely candidates on the market to accept a short term deal, possibly even a one-year pact, exactly what the team is looking for in a stop-gap replacement. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel pegged Iglesias for two years, $12 million, though perhaps the Yankees could offer him a higher annual salary for one season. For Iglesias, signing with the Yankees would be a great chance to build up value in the first half while playing every day in a loaded lineup, and then getting to stay on a competitive, contending team as the season moves on.
Machado should be at the top of the Yankees’ list, and Iglesias probably isn’t even the second or third choice, but he is viable for the job. Depending on how his market shapes up, he may even be worth it if they do land Machado, for his versatility on defense. Regardless, the Yankees will have time to consider him as he lands far down the list in priority, and he will await the bigger pieces to make their move.