After suffering a non-displaced fracture of his left hand (fifth metacarpal), Alex Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list and will be out for an indeterminate amount of time.
It's difficult to figure out just how long it will take Rodriguez to work his way back to the Yankees, as baseball players who've broken their fifth metacarpals in recent years haven't had uniform recoveries. Eric Chavez missed 33 games in 2004. Omar Infante missed 73 games in 2009. Eric Byrnes was out of action for 63 games in 2009.
This is an injury that could make A-Rod a September reinforcement or put him out of 2012 action altogether.
With that in mind, here's a possible list of replacements for the injured slugger:
MINOR LEAGUE CALL-UP
In the short-term the Yankees' modus operandi suggests they'll likely see what they have in-house before looking to other teams' rosters. Even if Eric Chavez initially takes the day-to-day duty over, the Yankees may want to call up another player who can play third base for further security.
Brandon Laird is the regular third baseman for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, but his season numbers are underwhelming. Laird is hitting .248 with a .308 on-base percentage and .405 slugging percentage. However, Laird has been hot the past 10 games, hitting .366 with three home runs. If there was ever a time where his play merits a call-up, this could be it.
Eduardo Nunez was hitting .294 in the majors this season before he was demoted due to his defensive deficiencies. “Shaky” might be a compliment for his defense at this point. While his bat plays, he's not necessarily who you want manning the hot corner on a daily basis. Nunez is hitting just .233 in the minors this season, though that's only in 10 games. He returned from a thumb injury on July 23 and is 2-for-7 in his past two games.
ALREADY ON THE MLB ROSTER:
Eric Chavez is the logical replacement for Rodriguez. Girardi has already indicated that Chavez, a former Gold Glove third baseman having a resurgent season off the bench, would be the starter in Seattle on Wednesday. Chavez is hitting .269 with a .324 OBP and .474 slugging percentage. He has eight home runs, 18 runs and 20 RBIs. But he's been injury prone during his career and durability is a big issue. During his post-game press conference Girardi acknowledged those concerns, saying “we have to be careful how much we play Chavy.”
Jayson Nix, the other backup infielder on the roster, is hitting .235 with a .286 OBP and .412 slugging percentage. He has three home runs, 11 runs and seven RBIs.
The injury to Rodriguez puts the Yankees in a bind. The non-waiver trade deadline is just six days away and teams will smell desperation if Brian Cashman comes calling. And it's not just the Yankees who may be in the market for a third baseman. The surprising Oakland A's are also rumored to be in search of an upgrade, so no deal will come easy. Hanley Ramirez would have been an option, but it was reported early Wednesday morning that the Dodgers had acquired him.
Note: these are names that have appeared in trade rumors. They have not necessarily been linked to the Yankees.
Chase Headley is a popular name for the going-nowhere Padres, as he's earning just $3.475 million this season and is under team control through 2014. Headley, 28, is a .268 career hitter with a .346 OBP and .397 slugging percentage. He's hitting .268 with a .361 OBP and 11 home runs this season. A .299/.366/.448 hitter with 29 home runs in his career away from Petco park, Headley's hit just .235/.324/.341 with 18 home runs at Petco. He's solid defensively, with a 10.2 UZR/150 at third base this season and an 8.4 career UZR/150 at the position.
Placido Polanco, 36, is earning $6.25 million with the Phillies this season and has a $5.5 mutual option in his contract for next year with a $1 million buyout that's likely to be exercised. Unlike Ramirez or Headley, Polanco would merely be a half-season rental. He likely wouldn't cost too much in terms of prospects, as he's hitting just .255 with a .300 OBP and .328 slugging percentage. Polanco's a good defensive third baseman, with a career 11.5 UZR/150 at the position and a 6.0 UZR/150 this season.