With the countdown to spring training reaching below the two-week mark, we continue our look at the Yankees depth at each position. We’ve looked at third, short and second and now we conclude a look at the infield with first base. With Mark Teixeira’s injury last year, the Yankees trotted out, including Tex, a whopping 10 players at the position in 2013. What’s in store for 2014?
Well, for the Yankees to be contenders, they are going to need a fully-recovered Teixeira manning first base. Does he have to be what he once was? It would help, but at this point, we know what he is. He’s a .250 hitter who can get 28 homers and drive in 100 with a high on-base percentage. If that wrist isn’t healthy, Russ Canzler was brought in on a minor league deal and would presumably be the next in line. Brian McCann could be the heir apparent at the position, and with the depth the Yankees have at catcher (which we’ll get to another day) it could be a good idea for McCann to take some grounders and start learning the position now, just in case.
In Triple-A last year, Dan Johnson manned the position, but he moved on to Toronto. Double-A featured Kyle Roller, who put up decent power numbers, but is also 25-years-old and isn’t thought of as a big prospect. High-A Charleston featured a talked about prospect in Gregory Bird. There are different opinions on Bird, however, he could be a long-term answer at the position. At just 20, he could find himself at High-A again or in Double-A.
Kendrys Morales is still on the free agent market right now, but he may not be a target unless Tex is out for the season, especially with the draft pick compensation. The other options are Casey Kotchman, who didn’t have a hit last year, and Jeff Baker who’s more of an intriguing option. The free agent market in 2015 could have Billy Butler on the market if his club option isn’t picked up. If Corey Hart has a good year with Seattle, he could be a target, especially because he can play the outfield as well.
Of all the infield positions, the outlook is probably the most positive at first base. The Yankees may be able to go from Tex to McCann to Bird at the position and have it solidified for the next few years.