Chicago White Sox third baseman, and soon to be free agent Kevin Youkilis is a player that is well known by the Chicago Cubs. Youkilis, who has never played for the Cubs in his career, was formerly of the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the Chicago White Sox during the season. With Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod the leading minds within the Cubs’ baseball department, the Cubs are well aware of the qualities that Youkilis can bring to a team. Youkilis was beloved with the Red Sox during Epstein’s tenure, and the two likely have developed a close business relationship during their time together.
The way the stars are aligning, Youkilis and Epstein may be in line for a reunion this winter. The White Sox will surely decline Youkilis’ $13 million club option for the 2013 season. That decision has made Youkilis the top third baseman on the free agent market. The Cubs will be in the market for a third baseman. The Cubs have not given up on third base prospect Josh Vitters, who will start the 2013 season with the Iowa Cubs. The expectation is that Vitters will likely need a full-season with the Iowa Cubs, if August and September are any indicators, the young third baseman likely needs one more season before he is completely ready to take over as the Cubs’ starting third baseman. Though, lets be honest, Vitters’ future with the Cubs is not guaranteed as it is for the likes of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
Needless to say, the Cubs have a glaring hole at the third base position. That whole will need to be filled by the start of Spring Training in 2013. Pat Mooney of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago reports that the Cubs will monitor third baseman Ian Stewart this winter, but it seems likely that Stewart will not return to the Cubs in 2013. Operating under that assumption, Mooney makes himself the first local writer to publicly link the Cubs to Youkilis. For the reasons that I mentioned above and because of Youkilis’ winning pedigree, Mooney speculates that the former third baseman could find a home with the Cubs this winter.
But the question now becomes would the Cubs want a 34 year third baseman manning the position next season during the midst of their continued rebuild? The answer to that question should undoubtedly be yes. Youkilis, above all else, is a baseball player. I believe that is the ultimate compliment that one could give a Major League Baseball player. Look no further than Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees or Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers to discover that Major League Baseball players are generally called anything but baseball players. But, Youkilis goes about his business in the right manner. That is why he was seen as a clubhouse leader within Red Sox clubhouse before a conflict with then Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine led to the third baseman being traded to the White Sox. Looking back at it, that could be seen as the start of the downfall of Valentine and the Red Sox.
No matter what happened in Youkilis’ past, there is no question that he would add a vital element to the Cubs’ future. That element would be experience. Youkilis’ experience with the Red Sox have shaped him into a prime candidate for being the veteran leader of a team that is in the middle of a rebuild. Say what you will about Alfonso Soriano and his impact on the Cubs’ clubhouse, but, his impact and tutelage would pale in comparison to what Youkilis would provide for the young Cubs’ roster.
When Theo Epstein first joined the Cubs’ organization, the belief was the Cubs would emulate the “Red Sox Way” with what they billed as the “Cubs Way”. Youkilis was a major contributor to the “Red Sox Way”, and now could find himself embracing the “Cubs Way”.