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Free agent Jhonny Peralta makes sense for Yankees

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Would Jhonny Peralta be a fit in the Bronx? (USATSI)
Would Jhonny Peralta be a fit in the Bronx? (USATSI)

MORE: FA tracker: position players | FA tracker: pitchers

The Yankees have at least a cursory interest in free agent infielder Jhonny Peralta, reports Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com. Given the team's current straits on the left side of the infield, such a match-up would make quite a bit of sense.

As you're no doubt painfully aware, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is in the midst of appealing his 211-game suspension. As such, it's distinctly possible that the Yankees are going to be without him for a long time -- possibly for the entirety of the 2014 campaign. There's also the fact that shortstop Derek Jeter is 39 years of age and coming off a 2013 season in which serious leg problems limited him to just 17 games played. That is, the already defensively challenged Jeter may simply no longer be able to man such a critical position on a regular basis.

In the same vein, even if A-Rod some how avoids a lengthy suspension, he's likely to need periodic rest and some "semi" off days in the DH spot. All of that means the Yankees are sorely in need of quality depth on the left side of the infield.

And that brings us back to Peralta. The 31-year-old has played almost 10,000 career innings at short and almost 2,000 at third. He can also hit a little bit: last season with the Tigers, Peralta batted .303/.358/.457 with 30 doubles in 107 games (Peralta was of course suspended for 50 games last season), and for his career he owns an OPS+ of 101. As well, Peralta over his career has fairly balanced platoon splits.

As Jon Heyman reported earlier, the Yankees have re-upped with shortstop Brendan Ryan, but there's still a need for a guy like Peralta, who, unlike Ryan, can produce at the plate. As noted, they'll need depth at both positions, and at shortstop Peralta and Ryan could form a somewhat unconventional "offense/defense" platoon that could be determined by the starting pitcher's groundball tendencies.

Few things in baseball right now are as certain as the expectation that the Yankees are going to need options on the left side of the infield moving forward. In the absence of, say, a Stephen Drew signing (it's rumored to be a possibility), the Yankees would be hard pressed to do better than Peralta to fill what's going to be a very important role for them in 2014.

 
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