Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/31/12
June 24 was the last time the Fenway Faithful saw Kevin Youkilis in a Red Sox uniform, and oh what a scene it was. Few players have ever gotten the kind of sendoff Youkilis did on that day, leaving the field to a standing ovation after knocking an RBI triple and being lifted for a pinch runner. It was an impressive show of appreciation for a player who not only gave 100 percent effort on each and every play throughout his career, but was generally viewed -- along with Dustin Pedroia -- as the embodiment of what Red Sox baseball is all about. With that kind of closure, few would imagine -- though many fans surely hoped -- that Youkilis would be seen wearing Boston's colors again. However, with the White Sox declining the 33-year-old's $13 million option for 2013 on Tuesday, could a reunion actually happen? It's an interesting scenario to think about, and one that shouldn't be immediately written off. In short, the circumstances under which Youkilis was traded from the Red Sox have changed dramatically. At the time, not only was there no place for him on the field -- pushed out by rookie Will Middlebrooks' stellar play at third base, and having nowhere else to go with Adrian Gonzalez entrenched at first -- but the relationship between Youkilis and manager Bobby Valentine had probably soured irreparably. But now, John Farrell is the boss in Boston, and though Middlebrooks remains, Gonzalez has since been exported to Los Angeles, leaving a gaping hole at first base as the Red Sox head into the offseason looking to retool for 2013. Add to that an uninspiring free agent market for corner infielders, and returning Youkilis to his seemingly natural home is an option that both sides should at least consider. For Youkilis, it would be a chance to come back to a place where he's already had championship success, and a ballpark where he owns a .911 career OPS. Likewise, for the Red Sox it could represent the opportunity to not only plug a hole with a viable option, but perhaps win back some of the goodwill lost during a season which finished 24 games below .500. Of course, the danger in such a move for the Sox is Youkilis' potentially diminishing skill set. Although his numbers improved upon heading to the South Side of Chicago, he didn't exactly tear it up with the White Sox, even with regular at-bats, owning a .771 OPS in 80 games. Add to that questionable defense at third base entering his mid-30s, and it's pretty much a no-brainer that Youkilis wasn't worth $13 million. That being said, the Red Sox wouldn't be asking Youkilis to play third, he'd be going across the diamond to play a much less demanding position. Moreover, despite his diminishing power, Youkilis retains one of the best eyes in baseball, walking 37 times in those 80 games -- on-base skills which were sorely lacking from the Sox by the end of the season. Of course, like all things in basbeall, a potential reunion would come down to financial terms and length of commitment. Although the Red Sox have oodles of financial flexibility with the August trade that shipped out Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, the lesson the team was admitting through those deals was that overpaying for talent rarely works out in the long term. And this is where things might get complicated. Although the White Sox are reportedly interested in brining Youkilis back at a lower base salary, conventional wisdom says that it wouldn't be a burdensom commitment in terms of cash or duration. If nothing else has stuck from the introduction of Moneyball principles, it's that overextending yourself for a player on the wrong side of 30 already in decline is almost never a good idea. Aubrey Huff, who signed a two-year deal with San Francisco following his team-leading offense in a 2010 World Series campaign, is such a cautionary tale. So, do not expect the Red Sox to go outside their comfort zone to sign Youkilis -- assuming they would even want him back -- even for a player with such a storied history with the team. But that being said, with the best potential first-base free agents on the market including names like Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher and Mike Napoli, Youkilis could be an attractive option insofar as he could well mimic their production for a fraction of the cost and duration of commitment. There are any number of reasons such a reunion might be out of the question, but it's an option both Youkilis and the Red Sox would be remiss to not at least consider.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker