The hard-nosed Youkilis, who helped personify Boston’s championship teams over the past decade, on Tuesday became the latest former Red Sox star to switch sides and land in Bronx. The free agent reached a deal that filled New York’s immediate need for a third baseman to fill in for injured Alex Rodriguez.
The one-year contract for $12 million is pending a physical. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press about the agreement under condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
Youkilis, who turns 34 in March, is expected to play third base while Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod plans to have the operation in mid-January and could be sidelined until the All-Star break or beyond.
Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs are among the Boston stars who wound up in pinstripes in recent times. Of course, the most famous player to make that move was Babe Ruth.
For years, Youkilis was among the more popular players at Fenway Park — scruffy and intense, Boston fans loved how he battled the Yankees. Youkilis and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had their own feud that exemplified the ill will between the clubs — the inside fastballs that caused the trouble between them tapered off in recent seasons and now they’re set to become teammates.
Eric Chavez, A-Rod’s backup for most of last season, joined Arizona last week. The Yankees considered several options as a stopgap at third, including Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds, but both accepted deals with other teams.
He was traded to the White Sox last June as Boston’s new management reshaped the Red Sox roster. There was friction from the start of the season, when first-year manager Bobby Valentine questioned Youkilis‘ commitment — Dustin Pedroia publicly stood up for his longtime teammate, yet it seemed clear Youkilis‘ days in Boston were numbered.
An All-Star in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Youkilis won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007. He is a .283 hitter with 148 home runs in nine seasons, and was on Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.
With the Yankees, Youkilis also could play first base to give Mark Teixeira a break and could serve as the designated hitter on occasion.
There is still uncertainty about when Rodriguez will return. He is a 14-time All-Star and baseball’s priciest player, with his current overall contract worth $275 million.