Are Sox interested in new free agent Kevin Youkilis?

Are Sox interested in new free agent Kevin Youkilis?
October 30, 2012, 10:39 pm
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The Red Sox are in the market for a first baseman, and there's a familiar name out there.

Kevin Youkilis is a free agent after the White Sox declined the 13 million option for 2013 on his contract. Chicago reportedly has interest in bringing him back at a lower price, but Youkilis -- who played third for the White Sox -- is probably the best third baseman on the market and there figures to be interest in his services.

And the Red Sox?

Well, with Will Middlebrooks ready to take over as the team's everyday third baseman -- remember, that's what prompted Youkilis' trade (well, that and his toxic relationship with Bobby Valentine) in the first place -- the Sox would most likely want Youk to go back to first base were they to bring him back. But will they? And should they?

Youkilis turns 34 next March and his precipitous offensive decline continued -- in fact, accelerated -- in 2012. His OPS-plus dropped to a substandard 99 (it was 157 just two years ago) after a season in which he hit .235 with 19 homers and 60 RBI in 122 games. And it was an honest .235: After hitting .233 in 42 games in Boston, he hit .236 in 80 games in Chicago.

His on-base percentage, meanwhile, dipped to .336 (after being at .377 in 2011 and .411 in 2010), and his slugging percentage fell to .409 (after being .459 in '11, and over .500 for the three seasons before that).

There's a trend here, and it's pointing downward.

Will the Sox bite? The answer to that question may also be the answer as to how serious they are about rebuilding.