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Yankees hot stove: What is the outlook for third base in 2014?

After the signing of Brian Roberts, the Yankees have a couple of options to play 2B, but who is going to play third?

Jonathan Daniel

Going into the offseason, there were a number of questions up in the air regarding the 2014 season. Namely, would Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension be upheld. If yes, great--more money to spend/help stay under Plan 189. If no, great--the actual third baseman on the team could do his job and play third base. The final word on this can't come fast enough, especially if Plan 189 still is in play.

After the recent signing of second baseman Brian Roberts, the Yankees now have both Roberts and Kelly Johnson as options to play second base. That still leaves a hole over at third, since it seems likely that A-Rod will have to serve at least some (probably 50 games minimum) of that suspension. Kelly Johnson has some experience playing third, but not much. He has played 16 games (118 innings) total at third, all of which were played during his time with the Rays last year. Incredibly small sample size alert: Johnson's UZR at third was 2.6. Comparatively, Eduardo Nunez played 14 games (120 innings) at third base last season, and his UZR was 0.1. Make of that what you will; it is possible that Johnson would be okay defensively at third, or at least an upgrade from Nunez, but it's also possible that I'd be okay defensively at third.

If the plan isn't for Johnson to play third, then who? Nunez? (If so, I hope that some of the money spent this offseason goes towards buying him a helmet that actually fits his head). Mark Reynolds is still available, although his defense is shaky as well, having put up a -5.7 UZR during the 409 innings that he played at third between his time with the Indians and the Yankees last season. Free agent options are dwindling at this point. Eric Chavez is off the table, as he just re-signed with the Diamondbacks. Michael Young is still an option, but his defense is on about the same level as Mark Reynolds, with both sporting a UZR in the range of -12 when looking at UZR per 150 games played. Young is also several years older than Reynolds, so you'd have to guess that the Yankees are just dying to sign him.

There is still time for the Yankees to sign someone else to play third base, but the options are starting to look a little thin. Which player would inspire the most confidence in you to play third?