Utility infielder is an interesting role for the New York Yankees. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter each played at least 163 games last season. Alex Rodriguez would have done the same had he not opened on the disabled list. Every team needs a backup infielder, but the Yankees don’t need one very often.
Right now, the 40-man roster has four young infielders who could play the part. Or, the Yankees could go after a free agent. The one who seems to make the most sense, is also the one who’s most familiar. Jerry Hairston Jr. played the part pretty well last season, and the Yankees could try to bring him back for 2010.
Should the Yankees be aggressive in going after Hairston?
Yes: Hairston isn’t especially expensive, he’s familiar and he can do more than play the infield. The fact he would give the Yankees a right-handed outfield option would be a definite plus. He also has some speed off the bench, which could be helpful when Brett Gardner is in the starting lineup. In his career, Hairston has played at least 62 major league games at six different positions. That’s great flexibility, and that makes him a great fit for this team.
No: Hairston is cheap but he’s not free, and the Yankees do seem to be working within a budget this winter. They could spend $2 million on Hairston, but that’s $2 million they might not be able to spend on a more offensive-minded outfielder. Also, utility infielders are easy to trade for during the season. If the young guys were to fall flat, the Yankees could get a mid-season replacement without much trouble. Getting Hairston wasn’t exactly difficult last year. Hairston fits, but he’s not the only option.