Wednesday’s news that all-star first baseman Mark Teixeira will miss ten weeks due to a strained tendon in his right wrist has put the New York Yankees in full-on search mode to find a replacement for the first two months of the regular season. With the usually reliable Teixeira manning first base, the Yankees have not had the need to acquire much depth behind him in the past, and that lack of depth is shining through right now.
Four different names have been speculated among internal options to replace Teixeira. Offseason acquisition Kevin Youkilis has experience playing first base in the past, but moving the veteran across the diamond would only leave another hole to fill, this time at third base. Another offseason acquisition, Travis Hafner, was once a first baseman, but has not been able to play the field since 2007. General Manager Brian Cashman has already flatly stated that Hafner is not an option to play first base at any point this season. As an injury risk himself, keeping the veteran Hafner out of the field is probably best for the Yankees.
The remaining two internal options are probably the best candidates to replace Teixeira. Juan Rivera, in Yankees camp on a minor-league contract, was supposed to be contending for a reserve outfielder’s position. After spending some time at first base in each of the past two seasons, Rivera could make a strong push to handle first base for the Yankees for the beginning of the season. If Rivera cannot earn the job during spring training, the role could fall to non-roster invitee Dan Johnson. A career .237 hitter after spending parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, Johnson may be the default option to replace Teixeira as the only other natural first baseman with major league experience. Originally, Johnson was supposed to be competing for a spot as a reserve corner infielder, filling the role of the recently departed Eric Chavez.
With the internal options clearly subpar, the Yankees may try to turn to the free agent market as spring training winds to a close. However, at this point, it seems unlikely that Brian Cashman and the Yankees will make a move just for the sake of making a move. After reviewing the available corner infielders on the free agent market, it seems unlikely that there are any players available which could be of use to the Yankees in either the short or the long term.
In light of the situation the Yankees are currently facing, third baseman Kevin Youkilis may actually be the team’s best option at first base. He won a gold glove at the position with the Boston Red Sox back in 2007, and it may not be as difficult to replace him across the diamond as one may think. Had he not been injured at the beginning of camp, David Adams likely could have made a significant push for a roster spot, but he is out with a back injury. Even without Adams, the Yankees could still use any combination of Ronnier Mustelier, Corban Joseph, Jayson Nix, and Eduardo Nunez to staff the hot corner if Youkilis were to move across the diamond on a temporary basis.
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