On-Base Perception

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Free agent options to replace Alex Rodriguez

White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis hits a

White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis hits a grand slam in the fifth inning in a game against the Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field. (Aug. 21, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez will have January surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, a bone impingement and the correction of a cyst – which could leave the Yankees without his presence at third base until June (or later).

Eduardo Nunez is the only legitimate internal option to replace A-Rod at the hot corner on the 40-man roster, but he's been a defensive liability in the past, despite his potentially potent bat.

But the free agent market offers several possibilities for a short-term fix:

Marco Scutaro

One of the heroes of the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series run, Scutaro batted .306 with a .348 on-base percentage and seven home runs for the Rockies and Giants last season. He's a career .276 hitter and has experience in the AL East: he played for the Blue Jays from 2008-2009 and with the Red Sox from 2010-2011.

A versatile infielder, Scutaro has played 440 games at second base, 112 games at third base, 681 games at shortstop, 14 games in left field, four games in right field and three games at first base. Even if A-Rod returns as early as June, Scutaro would be a valuable super-sub.

But there are plenty of stumbling blocks. First of all, Scutaro is 37, so the risk of injury is enhanced. Second, he's a hot commodity right now and the Giants figure to go after him hard, possibly driving his price up.

Jeff Keppinger

Keppinger hit .325 with a .367 OBP and nine home runs for the Rays in 2012. He has a .288 career average and has experience at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field.

But, as with Scutaro, there are issues. Keppinger is recovering from injury himself, a right fibula fracture. Though he's not expected to miss time, it's always tricky signing a guy recovering from injury to replace a guy with an injury. There is also heavy competition for his services.

Stephen Drew

The Yankees have been linked to Drew by multiple outlets for some time now, even before news of the A-Rod injury came out.

Drew is a .265 career hitter coming off an awful season where he batted .223 with seven home runs for the Diamondbacks and Athletics. He's also played exclusively shortstop in the majors.

Drew may be the riskiest of any free agent option for the Yankees because he'd be moving to a new position and trying to rebound from a down year. When you're replacing a player of A-Rod's stature – regardless of his playoff performance in 2012 – that's not a recipe for success.

Kevin Youkilis

Could the angry bat waggle come to the Bronx on a permanent basis?

After a horrid 165 plate appearances for the Red Sox (.233 average, four home runs), Youkilis rebounded nicely with the White Sox. He hit .236 but with a .346 on-base percentage and 15 home runs.

Youkilis also has extensive experience at third base, playing 442 games there.

So far the Phillies and White Sox have been rumored to be in on Youkilis. Could the Yankees join the mix?

Eric Chavez

He's certainly familiar to the team, but it's unlikely he can be counted on to play a quasi-full time role for more than a month given his injury history. Until last season, he hadn't played more than 90 games in a season since 2006. He only played in 99 games from 2009-2011.

He hit .281 with 16 home runs in 2012 and is a slick fielder -- but Chavez is probably best suited in the back-up role he's excelled in with the Yankees.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez , Yankees , Marco Scutaro , Jeff Keppinger , Stephen Drew , Kevin Youkilis , Eric Chavez

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