Earlier this week, the Chicago White Sox decided not to exercise their $13 million option on Kevin Youkilis. There was discussion that they would like to bring him back, but at a significantly reduced price. As soon as I heard this news, my ears immediately pricked up- this was a scenario that I had spent a great deal of conversation with friends on. Our thought was that if a chance arose to bring back Youkilis, the Red Sox should exercise it immediately, before someone else signs him. We believed this whether or not Bobby V. was still running the show, but with him gone, it makes the decision simple: the Red Sox need to bring back Kevin Youkilis.
If the season were to begin today, the Red Sox would have Will Middlebrooks at 3B, Jose’ Iglesias at SS (hopefully!), and Dustin Pedroia at 2B. Tremendous defense up the middle, and average to above average production from 2 out of the 3 positions (If Iglesias bats .200 and can get around the bases at all, I’m happy.) Bringing Youkilis back and slotting him in the giant hole that the Red Sox have had at 1B since the departure of Adrian Gonzalez last season just makes sense.
What the Red Sox and their fans need right now is a little Bruce Springsteen in their lives (and really, who doesn’t.) It’s time to harken back to the Glory Days when the Red Sox weren’t the doormats of the A.L. East. The first step in that process was acquiring the services of John Farrell to manage the team. Whether or not he is the guy best suited to manage the team will be seen soon enough, but from his experience under Terry Francona it is clear that he had a connection with the players and staff. The next step should be to re-sign Youkilis.
I don’t think that the Sox should break the bank to sign Youk, but I also don’t think it will be necessary for them to do so. Somewhere in the neighborhood of a 2 year/$16 million with a mutual option for a third year, plus incentives should likely get it done. For comparison’s sake, if the Sox re-sign David Ortiz, he’s likely to cost them in the neighborhood of $12 million for the 2013 season, and he quit on the team. Plus, he doesn’t play defense. Youk’s glove is just as important as his bat when it comes down to analyzing his value to the club.
In 26 games at 1B in 2012, Youk did not make a single error in 126 chances. While that may not seem like a very large pool to judge his defense by, one only has to recall that between July 4, 2006 and June 6, 2008, Youk did not make an error while playing 1B. This streak encompassed 238 games and 2,002 fielding attempts. No, this is not 2008, but Youk’s glove work at 1B is stellar, and will be better than any other option the Red Sox can hope to pick up.
One last important thing that should not be overlooked with regard to Youk: Sox fans love him, unequivocally. This is seen not only in their affection for him, but by the fact that the Sox brass didn’t dare to place the customary hit job on Youk as he was sent packing. They stayed classy, which may give them the opportunity to bring him back in to the fold.
The Sox have the money to get this deal done, and if they don’t spend it on a fan favorite like Youkilis, there’s always the chance they’ll make a ridiculous offer to oh, say Nick Swisher. There is absolutely no upside to such a scenario occurring. With Youk back, and with the Evil Empire in disarray, the Sox could legitimately compete as soon as 2013. Sure, Farrell will have to work some magic with the pitching staff, and the Sox will still have to compete with the pesky Rays and upstart Orioles (to say nothing of Oakland/Anaheim/Texas for wild card position), but it’s doable. They are in a much better place than they were just 30 days ago, even. Send a message to the fans that you care what they think, but also that you’re serious about winning.
Can players who were traded away successfully return to their former teams? Or should it not be considered?
Let me know what you think: