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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Sorting through a long list of third base candidates

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 15, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Eduardo Nunez, CC Sabathia

First, don’t forget we’re doing a chat today at noon. Swing by if you can. As for the actual post…

At this point, it seems pretty clear that the Yankees are planning to use Kelly Johnson quite a bit at third base next season. It also seems entirely possible that they’re going to simply gather a large group of potential platoon partners rather than actively pursue one particular player who’s locked into that role heading into spring training. The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring — Mark Reynolds, Jeff Baker, Michael Young, Placido Polanco — and the Yankees might not be willing to make a significant commitment to any one of them.

Without a major third base addition between now and the start of spring training, who might walk into big league camp trying to jump into the mix at the hot corner? Here are 10 names to know, from the favorite to a true long shot:

Johnson (K)KELLY JOHNSON
Bats: Left
Primarily: Second baseman
Major League games at third: 16
Acquired: Signed one-year Major League deal this winter
The Yankees like his left-handed power and his versatility (he’s also played left field), and right now he seems most needed at third base, where he seems to best positioned to become the Yankees regular against right-handed starters.

NunezEDUARDO NUNEZ
Bats: Right
Primarily: Shortstop
Major League games at third: 78
Acquired: International free agent in 2004
Has lacked consistency on both offense and defense during his time in the big leagues, but the Yankees were encouraged by his play in September, and he might be their best in-house option as a right-handed platoon player. Could be optioned to Triple-A.

RyanBRENDAN RYAN
Bats: Right
Primarily: Shortstop
Major League games at third: 29
Acquired: Re-signed to two-year deal this winter
Signed to provide depth and defense at shortstop, Ryan hasn’t played third base since five games in 2008. His glove, though, is hardly the question. Ryan’s light bat isn’t ideal for a third baseman, even in a platoon situation.

AnnaDEAN ANNA
Bats: Left
Primarily: Second baseman
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: Traded from the Padres this winter
No Major League experience, but he’s played all four infield spots and the outfield corners in the minor leagues. Described as a grinder-type, Anna’s best position is second base, and his best offensive attribute is his career .386 on-base percentage in the minors. He’s on the 40-man roster, but with options.

SizemoreSCOTT SIZEMORE
Bats: Right
Primarily: Third baseman
Major League games at third: 97
Acquired: Signed minor league deal this winter
Although he played mostly second base in the minors, Sizemore has most of his big league time at third. His overall .238/.328/.381 career slash line isn’t inspiring, but he’s hit .272/.357/.422 against lefties. Reportedly turned down major league deals to pursue this opportunity.

MustelierRONNIER MUSTELIER
Bats: Right
Primirily: Left fielder
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: International free agent in 2011
Split his time pretty evenly between third base and the outfield in Triple-A last season; almost all outfield this winter. Although he played well in big league camp last spring, he’s coming off a so-so Triple-A season when his .718 OPS was almost 100 points lower than his career norm. Also dealt with injuries last season. Not seen as a particularly good fielder.

SolarteYANGERVIS SOLARTE
Bats: Switch
Primarily: Second baseman
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: Signed minor league deal this winter
No big league time. He’s played every position except pitcher and catcher in the minors. Hit .276/.323/.403 in the hitter-friendly PCL last year (hit .321/.371/.457 against lefties). Had a .418 on-base percentage in Venezuela this winter. Consistently thrived against lefties the past four years.

CanzlerRUSS CANZLER
Bats: Right
Primarily: Left fielder / first baseman
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: Signed minor league deal this winter
Four-corners utility man with 96 big league at-bats. All of his Major League time has come at first base and left field, but he’s played a lot of third in the minors, with a history of hitting for power, especially against left-handed pitching. Yankees had him on their roster last winter before losing him on waivers just before spring training.

JosephCORBAN JOSEPH
Bats: Left
Primarily: Second baseman
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: Cleared waivers this winter
A long shot because he’s no longer on the 40-man, and because he’s coming off shoulder surgery, and because he’s not a right-handed hitter. But Joseph is still in the mix somewhere after hitting .279/.363/.424 in his minor league career (got his first big league hit in limited time last year). Defensively he’s better at second than at third.

GarciaADONIS GARCIA
Bats: Right
Primarily: Center fielder
Major League games at third: 0
Acquired: International free agent in 2012
Two years in the Yankees minor league system, Garcia has played exactly one game in the infield, and that was at second base. This winter, though, he’s played more third base than anything else. And he’s shown an ability to hit. The Yankees are intrigued by the 28 year old out of Cuba, unclear whether they truly believe he can be an infielder, though.

Associated Press photo

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