Kevin Youkilis is no longer a free agent, as he’s agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal to become the newest member of the New York Yankees, as reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter):

This was a move that the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman, who have been widely lambasted by fans for their relative inaction during the Hot Stove League, needed to make.

Youkilis will take over at third base in place of the injured Alex Rodriguez, who will be out four-to-six months after he undergoes surgery on his left hip next month, according to ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand.

But that only begins to scratch the surface of why the nine-year major league veteran, who celebrates his 34th birthday at the end of March, will be a huge steal for the Yankees.

Take a look.


Youkilis is Actually an Upgrade Over A-Rod at Third Base

Crazy as it may sound, it’s true.

While Youkilis struggled to hit for average in 2012, both players appeared in 122 games, and their offensive production was similar:

A-Rod: .275 BA/.783 OPS, 18 HR, 57 RBI

Youk: .235 BA/.745 OPS, 19 HR, 60 RBI

Youkilis is still a quality defensive third baseman, though you might think otherwise by looking at his .964 fielding percentage, minus-6.2 UZR/150 and minus-1 DRS.

But those numbers are superior to A-Rod’s .957/minus-8.8/minus-2, and Youk committed only one more error than A-Rod did in 64 more chances.


Considering the Alternatives…

If the Yankees hadn’t signed Kevin Youkilis, they would have been in serious trouble trying to fill the void left by A-Rod’s injury.

The other third basemen available via free agency—Placido Polanco, Brandon Inge, Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton and Scott Rolen—all leave something to be desired.

Internal options are almost nonexistent, with Eduardo Núñez a disaster with the glove and Jayson Nix or Double-A infielder David Adams better suited for middle infield roles.


One Player, Three Spots

Aside from becoming the primary third baseman in New York, Youkilis can easily slide into two other spots that the Yankees, as presently constituted, don’t have pieces to fill.

An outstanding defensive first baseman with a career fielding percentage of .997, a 7.3 UZR/150 and 45 DRS, Youkilis can spell Mark Teixeira at first base when the Gold Glover needs a day off.

Not only that, but the right-handed Youkilis can step into the designated hitter role when the Yankees are facing a lefty, as he posted a .275/.386/.492 hitting line against them in 2012.

For his career, Youk has a .298/,417/.511 hitting line against southpaws.

Kevin Youkilis isn’t the three-time All-Star who spent his formative years with the Boston Red Sox, but he remains a quality baseball player who leaves it all on the field and, by all accounts, is a phenomenal teammate.

His versatility will be invaluable for the Yankees, and by the time the 2013 comes to an end, it will be crystal clear why this was one of the steals of the winter.

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