SEATTLE, WA - JULY 24: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees writhes in pain after being hit with a pitch on the arm by starting pitcher Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Rodriguez was removed from the game. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The average major league third baseman is hitting .261/.322/.421 this year. For all the disappointment A-Rod has engendered by slipping off his MVP-caliber perch as he has aged, he was still hitting .274/.354/.449, including .258/.347/.430 away from Yankee Stadium III, where baseballs fly the friendly skies. It's not what the Yankees are paying for (not that anyone forced them to), but it has them on the positive side of the league.
Make that had.
The good news is that Eric Chavez has had a remarkable season given that there was every reason to give him up for dead. He's hitting .295/.353/.525 against right-handed pitching, .269/.318/.474 away from YS III. It's not classic A-Rod, but again, it will do. Jayson Nix, the likely right-handed half of the platoon, can't hit much, even against left-handers-.239/.305/.439 for a right-handed hitter against southpaws isn't all that special. As the slugging percentage suggests, he has a little pop against them, with 15 home runs in 301 at-bats, and it will have to be enough for now.
It is a shallow class of third basemen in the majors this year. Seven teams have received on-base percentages of less than .300 from their players at the position, Oakland blazing a trail of ineptitude with .184/.230/.333 rates from Brandon Inge, Josh Donaldson, et al. Thus the world is beating a path to the Padres' door for Chase Headley.
After the anti-climax that was the Ichiro acquisition, one wondered if the Yankees were holding back assets to chase a starting pitcher. With Chavez around, they probably don't need to change course and go after a third baseman-at least until Chavez gets hurt again, a strong possibility given his history. Yet, if this is a moment when a Headley could be had, it would be very, very wise for the Yankees to go after him. Rodriguez might not be gone for the season, and he might be signed through the end of time, but he is ever more a designated hitter. Chavez is a limited-time-only asset, meaning they need a long-term answer at third base.
The A-Rod injury actually changes nothing in this regard-I made the same argument during the offseason after Jesus Montero had been traded. Chavez means that the Yankees are okay for the moment, but if they have a chance to cover the position not just now but for next year and the year after that, a trade that provides depth at present and in the future is one worth making, even if it costs them prospects...
...Prospects, let's face it, they were unlikely to use anyway.