NEW YORK— Kevin Youkilis is about to get a different look at the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
The hard-nosed Youkilis, who helped personify Boston’s championship teams over the past decade, on Tuesday became the latest former Red Sox star to switch sides and land in Bronx. The free agent reached a deal that filled New York’s immediate need for a third baseman to fill in for injured Alex Rodriguez.
The one-year contract for $12 million is pending a physical. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press about the agreement under condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
Youkilis, who turns 34 in March, is expected to play third base while Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod plans to have the operation in mid-January and could be sidelined until the All-Star break or beyond.
A three-time All-Star, Youkilis will get an early look at his old club. The Red Sox are set to open next season at Yankee Stadium on April 1.
Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs are among the Boston stars who wound up in pinstripes in recent times. Of course, the most famous player to make that move was Babe Ruth.
For years, Youkilis was among the more popular players at Fenway Park — scruffy and intense, Boston fans loved how he battled the Yankees. Youkilis and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had their own feud that exemplified the ill will between the clubs — the inside fastballs that caused the trouble between them tapered off in recent seasons and now they’re set to become teammates.
Minus Rodriguez for several months, the Yankees tried to find a fill-in. They made the offer to Youkilis last week at the baseball winter meetings. The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.
Eric Chavez, A-Rod’s backup for most of last season, joined Arizona last week. The Yankees considered several options as a stopgap at third, including Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds, but both accepted deals with other teams.
Youkilis played third base and first base last season for the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.
He was traded to the White Sox last June as Boston’s new management reshaped the Red Sox roster. There was friction from the start of the season, when first-year manager Bobby Valentine questioned Youkilis’ commitment — Dustin Pedroia publicly stood up for his longtime teammate, yet it seemed clear Youkilis’ days in Boston were numbered.
With the White Sox, Youkilis got off to a nice start before tailing off. He combined to hit a career-low .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.
An All-Star in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Youkilis won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007. He is a .283 hitter with 148 home runs in nine seasons, and was on Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.
With the Yankees, Youkilis could also play first base to give Mark Teixeira a break and could serve as the designated hitter on occasion.
There is still uncertainty about when Rodriguez will return. He is a 14-time All-Star and baseball’s priciest player, with his current overall contract worth $275 million.
Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs last season, and is fifth on the career homers list with 647. He slumped to .120 with zero RBIs in the playoffs, and was benched and replaced by a pinch hitter in key situations.