(Used courtesy of the fine folks at Pinstripe Alley)
I mentioned this earlier in the Freese post, but the other "big" infield story that popped up yesterday involved Brendan Ryan and the high level of interest both he and the Yankees are reported to have in each other. Ryan became the everyday shortstop after he was acquired late in the season, and hit .220/.258/.305 (.252 wOBA) in 62 plate appearances while reminding everybody what a good defensive shortstop looks like. That performance appears to have been enough to convince the Yankee brass he's worth another go because Joel Sherman reported last night that the 2 sides are "close" to a new deal. It's not even in the same area code as a Tanaka or McCann signing would be, but bringing Ryan back would be a smart strategic decision on multiple fronts.
Per Sherman's report, the contract is expected to be a "small" one and it will not signal the end of the Yankees' pursuit of other shortstop options like Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta. This looks like another case of the team wanting to have insurance for its old, rickety left side of the infield and it could be a sign that Derek Jeter won't be playing as much shortstop as he thinks in 2014.
The statements from multiple people in the front office indicate a fair amount of concern about Jeter's ankle and ability to stay healthy next year, and the best way to keep him on the field is probably to DH him. If A-Rod isn't around there will be plenty of opportunities to use Jeter as a right-handed platoon DH and at this point it's safe to say that the Nixes and Nunezes of the world are no longer viable options for Jeter's backup. Neither of them has shown that much more offensive upside than Ryan and both are vastly inferior to Ryan defensively. Going with a reliable defensive option behind Jeter gives the Yankees the flexibility to DH him as much as they need to while not taking a huge hit at a key infield position.
Ryan's never going to be Jeter in his prime with the bat. He might not even be 40-year-old Jeter with a bum ankle with the bat. But he proved in his short pinstripe audition that there's value to the team in his glove and that's value that has been missing from the left side of the Yankee infield for a long time. Ryan's presence at short will help Sabathia, Nova, and whoever else the Yankees use to round out their rotation, and his offensive weakness can be mitigated by the return of Teix and the addition of 1 or 2 of the litany of other bat-first free agents the Yankees are targeting. I said a while back that I wanted Ryan on the team next year and it looks like the Yankees do too.