Just when you start to accept that the Yankees are done and there are no more signings…….BAM the Yankees pull a fast one and sign Chris Carter. It’s nice to have a powerful bat but the Yankees are in the middle of a youth movement so this kind of goes against the new direction. Not only that, but Carter’s arrival means there is one less spot for the kids to compete for so who will be the odd man out?
|(Aug. 20, 2016 – Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images North America)|
Someone just became expendable. I really don’t know how I feel about this signing yet. I like the idea of adding Carter’s National League leading 41 home runs into Yankee stadium with its short porch and I think he will do a lot of damage in our park. However, as much as I like that idea there are two ideas I dislike even more: Carter’s second highest strikeout rate at 32% and now there is only one bench spot left for the Yankees to fill. Which one of the kids gets demoted?
|(June 1, 2016 – Source: Duane Burleson/Getty Images North America)|
1) Rob Refsnyder
There is no disputing that Refsnyder is very versatile. The Yankees could play him at first, shortstop, third base or the outfield in a pinch. They trusted him in high pressure situations and played him in place of team veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury. They like his attitude, his work ethic and even his bat….but they have lost all faith in his defensive skills and his ability to play second base. He was one of the original youth movement that was going to be the future.
|(July 17, 2015 – Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)|
Now, those same names are competing for starting jobs and he’s barely in the mix for a bench role. It is hard to find a role for THE HYPED AND SINCE FORGOTTEN ROB REFSNYDER and since he has minor league options left with no clear path to the majors….he seems to be expendable.
|(Aug. 12, 2016 – Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)|
2) Tyler Austin
The Yankees also have another super utility man to consider. Like Refsnyder, he can also play first base, third base, right field and left field. It is rumored that Austin has been training at the minor league compound in Tampa since the middle of January at every position and hitting well in batting practice. The Yankees seem to have more confidence in Austin defensively.
|(Sept. 3, 2016 – Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)|
Last season he played in 32 games for the Yankees: 27 of those at first base, three in right field and two in left field. He proved to be a dependable right handed hitter with great opposite field power. Based on all of the attention he got last year it really looks like despite some of the similarities between Refsnyder and Austin….that the Yankees lean towards Austin.
|(Aug. 29, 2015 – Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)|
3) Greg Bird
Even after missing an entire year with a shoulder injury, Bird was considered to be the favorite for the first base job and a much needed left handed bat. Now that the Yankees have added Carter, it certainly complicates things. I can’t help but wonder if Bird’s shoulder isn’t 100% yet. Was there a setback and we just don’t know about it yet? Will we get bad news in the near future? I like insurance policies but Carter isn’t a backup plan. He is a guy that will require regular at bats and consistent playing time. You don’t sign a guy who hits 41 home runs to keep your bench warm. Bird did get some work in the Arizona Fall League but struggled quite a bit with a .215BA, one home run and 17 strikeouts in 65 at-bats as a DH, he never played first base. No injury bears as much uncertainty in a hitter as a shoulder problem….and I think this shows how concerned the Yankees really are.
|Aug. 20, 2015 – Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America|
I really want to see Bird get his opportunity on the team, but I can see the Yankees exercising caution here. They could decide to start him down in AAA to give him some extra time. Not only that, if he spends 65 games down in the minors this year it would delay his free agency for another year which would be financially beneficial for the Yankees.
|(July 16, 2016 – Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)|
Signing Carter makes things extremely complicated. Honestly, I see Refsnyder becoming expendable, Bird taking a 65 game hiatus and Austin getting the bench spot. In a perfect world, I would want both Bird and Austin on the team….and I think the ideal way to do that would be to cut Aaron Hicks loose since he is only signed through the end of this season and Austin can play in the outfield instead. It would allow Austin some more playing and allow the Yankees to have one of the most versatile teams on the field. It looks like a big problem now, but it is early and this will all work itself out….somehow.
What do you think? Who has become expendable?