NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The offer sat on the table for a while, but in the end Kevin Youkilis apparently couldn’t pass up the Bronx.
According to several reports, the veteran infielder agreed to the Yankees’ one-year, $12 million standing offer on Tuesday, with the deal becoming official pending a physical. Youkilis, 33, would take over at third base for injured Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to miss 4-6 months following January hip surgery.
A career .283 hitter and owner of a solid .384 on-base percentage over nine seasons, Youkilis played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, winning World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, before being traded to the Chicago White Sox early last season. With Chicago, Youkilis hit .236 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs in 80 games.
The move puts to bed a troubling issue for the Yankees, who only last week learned they would be without Rodriguez for quite some time. Youkilis, who can also play first base, figures to be the third baseman even when Rodriguez returns because the Yankees, many believe, will turn A-Rod into a full-time DH.
A three-time All-Star, Youkilis will get an early look at his old club. The Red Sox are set to open next season at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs are among the Boston stars who wound up in pinstripes in recent times. Of course, the most famous player to make that move was Babe Ruth.
For years, Youkilis was among the more popular players at Fenway Park — scruffy and intense, Boston fans loved how he battled the Yankees. Youkilis and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had their own feud that exemplified the ill will between the clubs — the inside fastballs that caused the trouble between them tapered off in recent seasons and now they’re set to become teammates.
Minus Rodriguez for several months, the Yankees tried to find a fill-in. They made the offer to Youkilis last week at the baseball winter meetings. The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.
Eric Chavez, A-Rod’s backup for most of last season, joined Arizona last week. The Yankees considered several options as a stopgap at third, including Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds, but both accepted deals with other teams.
An All-Star in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Youkilis won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007. With the Yankees, Youkilis could also play first base to give Mark Teixeira a break and could serve as the designated hitter on occasion.
There is still uncertainty about when Rodriguez will return. He is a 14-time All-Star and baseball’s priciest player, with his current overall contract worth $275 million.
Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs last season, and is fifth on the career homers list with 647. He slumped to .120 with zero RBIs in the playoffs, and was benched and replaced by a pinch hitter in key situations.
It is also believed that the Yankees have had serious discussions with Ichiro Suzuki’s representatives in the hopes of bringing the former two-time AL batting champion back for a full season in the Bronx. The Yankees acquired Suzuki, 39, last July and he hit .322 with 5 homers and 27 RBIs in 67 games.
Suzuki, a former AL MVP and Rookie of the Year and the major league single-season hits record holder, was one of the few Yankees that hit in the postseason, batting .275 with 1 homer and 5 RBIs in 9 games.
The Yankees may also look to upgrade at catcher. With Russell Martin leaving via free agency for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Yankees have been mulling possibly giving the job to youngster Austin Romine or perhaps signing a veteran. One possible name still available on the open market is A.J. Pierzynski, who batted .278 with a career-high 27 homers and a career high-tying 77 RBIs for the White Sox last season.
Pierzynski, who will turn 36 on Dec. 30, was a member of Chicago’s 2006 world championship club.
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