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The Chicago White Sox recently declined the $13 million option for the 2013 season on Kevin Youkilis. After all that transpired over the 2012 season for Youkilis, it is very hard to imagine him back in a Red Sox uniform. However, the idea isn’t all that crazy, and may be downright logical.
The Red Sox have a glaring hole at first base after the trade that changed the landscape of the franchise saw Adrian Gonzalez take his talents to Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Youkilis has proven that he can be a Gold Glove fielder at first base. His offense is not the same as it used to be, as highlighted by his numbers last season. Youk hit only .236 while hitting 15 home runs and driving in 46 RBI’s in 80 games for the White Sox. While those numbers don’t make many people salivate at the idea of bringing him back, fans also have to take into consideration all that transpired last season surrounding him.
To begin with, he was called out by manager Bobby Valentine for a lack of desire to play baseball. Bobby V took everyone by surprise with his comments; if anyone had even caught a glimpse of a Red Sox game over the past eight seasons, they would have seen Youkilis playing with high energy every single time he took the field. Nevertheless, Bobby V, the genius that he is, said what he said and ruined the relationship with Youkilis right off the bat. The rift was never fixed and Youk was eventually shipped off to Chicago in a trade that was rushed and pointless. The Sox received Brent Lillibridge, who they later sent to the Indians, and Zach Stewart, who in his first appearance was absolutely shelled.
Along with the move from Boston to Chicago, Youkilis and his wife also dealt with a new child coming into the world. To describe what went on with Youkilis last season, the word “distractions” would be a huge understatement. With all that going on, he never complained. He took his medicine, went out there and just played baseball.
The main reason why the Red Sox should consider bringing Youk back is that the free agent market for first base is extremely limited. There is always the chance the Sox bring back James Loney. After his brief stint with the Sox this season I think they and everyone else have seen enough. Other free agents include Adam Laroche, Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher, and Carlos Pena. Needless to say, none of these free agents stand out as a “I have to have him” type of player.
With the slim pickings on the market, and no one in the farm system ready to step up, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring Youkilis back for a couple years until they can find their new long-term solution. We already know he can play in Boston and deal with the media, and it’s safe to say the fans still love him.
Ben, do the right thing and give Youk a second chance. Here’s hoping he wants to come back.