Yankee centerfielders. You know their names: DiMaggio, Mantle, Williams, and now....Derek Jeter?
Well if you ask Yankee GM Brian Cashman the idea doesn't sound that far fetched. According to ESPN.com, Cashman told WFAN radio personality John Francesa that should the necessity ever arise for Jeter to move from SS, that centerfield would be an excellent position.
Many question Jeter's ability to play such a physically demanding position for the next four years. Even though he's coming off another Gold Glove season (Jeter has five for his career) anyone who's ever looked at FanGraphs knows Ozzie Smith he ain't. At 36 it's already quite obvious that Jeter's skills and range continue to diminish and it is very doubtful that he'll stay at shortstop for the rest of his career. A move to a less taxing position could also be beneficial to his productivity at the plate as well.
A close analysis of the options demonstrates that center or left field is a decent fit. With A-Rod at third and Texiera at first for the next several years those positions are not options. Second base is possible only if the Yankees don't re-sign Cano to a long term deal, and the chances of that happening are about as likely as me winning Dancing With the Stars. Swisher is locked up in right field for at least another two years and as long as he repeats similar numbers to the '09 and '10 seasons it's likely the Yankees re-sign Swish as well. That leaves Brett Gardner in left and Curtis Granderson in center. In all honesty either one of those positions are possibilities for Jeter although I think it's a little liklier that Jeter would be in left rather than center. It is a somewhat less taxing and Granderson is without question a very good centerfielder defensively so why bump him.
Another option that no one discusses is moving Jeter to DH. This is undoubtedly Posada's last year and it's clear he will be DHing most of the season. Why not move Jeter into that slot once Posada retires? I could see it happening, however the chances aren't great only because Captain Jete is the type of person that wants to contribute in every facet of the game, not just at the plate. Although Jeter is a team guy, I feel he has too much pride to give up a defensive position for just a bat.
The whole thing depends on how bad Jeter becomes defensively, what the Yankees are willing to accept, and what Jeter is willing to do. It's an equation that's not as simple as 2+2=4. The results of moving Jeter to the outfield this late in his career are unknowable. Robin Yount made the transition in the 1980s but it was still in the middle of his career and he won an MVP after the move. That's a once in a generation event that Jeter is not going to imitate. When the day comes for Jeter to make the move to the outfield I just pray it looks more like Ichiro Suzuki moving from right field to center and back, rather than Jose Canseco trying to pitch.