Derek Jeter has retired. He will no longer play for the New York Yankees. Not next year. Not the year after that. Never again. Jeter will not pull an Andy Pettitte or Roger Clemens and decide to return at some point in 2015. It isn’t happening. That means that – whether you like it or not, and I certainly fall into the latter – the Yankees must finally look for a new shortstop to replace Jeter. Without a clear-cut replacement working his way up through the minor leagues, the Yankees will likely need to address this glaring hole through free agency. Well, the Baltimore Orioles just gave J.J. Hardy a three-year contract extension worth $40 million, so New York can cross off that option. Still, the Yankees are notorious for spending too much money to acquire a player they covet, especially after missing out on the playoffs. Just think what will be going through the minds of the Yankees’ executives after failing to qualify for the postseason in consecutive seasons. Could that be enough to push the Yankees to sign Hanley Ramirez?
We are talking about the Yankees. Anything is possible.
A few weeks ago, I threw out the possibility of the Boston Red Sox reuniting with Ramirez, whom many people may forget was the key piece for the Florida Marlins when they traded Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. Having most recently played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it appears unlikely that Ramirez will be sporting the blue and white of L.A. next season.
That means that he will be seeking a new home for the 2015 MLB season.
Ramirez had a down season for the Dodgers in 2014, batting just .283 with 13 HR and 71 RBI in 128 games. He missed time with various injuries and failed to replicate the success he had for the Dodgers over the second half of the 2013 season. While he has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies since his final season with the Marlins in 2012, he is still just 31-years-old. That should make him a hot commodity on the open market this offseason.
After all, consider the other potential free agent shortstops.
The Yankees could decide to stay in-house and make Stephen Drew their everyday starting shortstop next season. That won’t solve much. Asdrubal Cabrera looked poised to become the next great thing for the Cleveland Indians after a phenomenal 2011 season. Unfortunately, his numbers decreased each season after that, forcing them to trade him to the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline. He is a free agent who is unlikely to remain with the Nats in a reserve role, but it is a huge question mark as to whether or not he can regain the form that made him a star a few years back.
What about Jed Lowrie, most recently of the Oakland Athletics? In 2010, as a member of the Red Sox, Lowrie looked good. In 2011, not so much. While he showed some pop as a member of the Houston Astros in 2012, his batting average was just bad. In 2013, Lowrie kept the similar power numbers with the A’s, and even managed to bat .290. But, as he has done throughout most of his career, Lowrie finished a solid season with a down one, managing to hit just .249 with six home runs for Oakland in 2014.
Ultimately, nobody knows what the Yankees will do in 2015. For the first time in two decades, the Bronx Bombers have a question mark at shortstop. While we know that Jeter will not be here to save them anymore, I think we can also rule out the possibility of Alex Rodriguez returning to play his former position.
That prediction sounds pretty safe.