D-backs deal for Youkilis seen as 'long shot'
PHOENIX — As unproductive as third base has been for the Diamondbacks this season, they appear to have limited interest in Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who is quite available.
The D-backs have not spoken to the Red Sox regarding Youkilis, a source with knowledge of the situation said this week, although they did have a scout at the Red Sox’s game Monday, the Boston Globe reported.
The source called Youkilis’ possible acquisition a “long, long shot” because of the bottom line. The D-backs stretched their 2012 budget to $75 million by signing free agents Jason Kubel and Joe Saunders last winter and would have to shed salary to make any deal work.
Youkilis, 33, would be an expensive one-season rental. He is making $12 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $41.125 million contract that includes a $13 million option for 2013 and a $1 million buyout. He also has a set of performance bonuses that could cap out at $300,000.
Youkilis missed the early part of the season with a back injury and has not returned to form, hitting .231 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 107 at-bats. He is a career .287 hitter with 133 homers in nine seasons.
The Red Sox seem agreeable to moving Youkilis because of the emergence of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks. They already are locked into Adrian Gonzalez at first base and David Ortiz at designated hitter.
Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland have been linked in reports to having interest in Youkilis.
If the D-backs decide to pursue a trade for Youkilis, Saunders seems the most likely candidate to be involved, both because he will be a free agent this winter and because of the D-backs’ quality minor league starting pitching that starts with Trevor Bauer. At the same time, the source said it's "unlikely" that the D-backs are looking to trade Saunders, who is 3-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 11 starts.
With Ryan Roberts and now Josh Bell handling third base most of the year, the D-backs rank sixth in the NL with 33 RBI at the position — 22 from Roberts. But their other production numbers at third base are among the lowest in the league: 14th in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. Their seven home runs are in the middle of the pack.
The D-backs could be inclined to handle the third base position much as they did at first base last year, when they mixed and matched through the first four months of the season before promoting Paul Goldschmidt from Class AA Mobile on Aug. 1.
Mobile third baseman Matt Davidson is among their top position player prospects. Davidson, 21, is hitting .270 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs in 58 games. He is having a good season but is not on the fast track that Goldschmidt was on last season.