Yankees Rob Refsnyder Embracing Role as Utilityman


Yankees infielder Rob Refsnyder is working to increase his versatility with Triple-A Scranton in an effort to earn a long-term bench role in New York.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi maintained that Rob Refsnyder’s August 14th demotion to the minors had nothing to do with his performance this year, telling reporters, “We just need pitching. As I told Ref, this was not something that he earned, the demotion.”

For me to be a part of the Yankees, I feel like I’ve got to be a utility player.

Refsnyder has hit .264/.336/.328 (78 wRC+) in 144 big league plate appearances this season. The majority of his playing time came after the Yankees suffered a series of injuries to their first basemen.

Mark Teixeira, Greg Bird, Dustin Ackley, and Chris Parmelee were all on the disabled list at once during for a stretch of the season, leaving the unproven Refsnyder as the club’s best option. He had never spent a professional inning at the position before this season, but it is now where he was the most big league experience with 175 MLB innings at first under his belt. 

More from Yanks Go Yard

Of course, with Teixeira healthy, first baseman Tyler Austin promoted to the big leagues, and backup catcher Austin Romine competent at the position, there is no longer much call for Refsnyder as a first baseman.

The 25-year-old likely doesn’t have the bat to stick at first base or rightfield (his college position) long-term as a starter, and the Yankees have Starlin Castro entrenched at second base for the next several years. That leaves Refsnyder without a clear opportunity with New York for the foreseeable future.

Still, Refsnyder doesn’t sound discouraged by that. “For me to be a part of the Yankees, I feel like I’ve got to be a utility player,” he recently told Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media.

"Every role is pretty filled. Maybe something will happen in the offseason, but for me to make the team I’ve got to be a utility guy. So as long as I’m a Yankee, I’ve got to play a lot of different positions."

Adding first base to his repertoire was a big step in that direction for Refsnyder. He’s seen five MLB action at five different positions in 2016: first, second, third, left, and right. Still, there is plenty of work left to do, especially at the hot corner, where Refsnyder has struggled to adapt at times.

Next: Deadline Acquisition McKinney's Struggles Continue

For what it’s worth, his manager with the Railriders, Al Pedrique, feels that Refsnyder is best suited to be a starter somewhere in the long run, telling Kuty:

"For me, he needs daily at-bats. I’ve seen this guy play before. I’ve had him for three years now and he’s a true hitter. We’re trying to figure things out defensively. The best position for him. We know he’s going to hit at the major league level. That’s what he’s shown."

Given his Triple-A production the last three seasons, it’s not unreasonable to expect Refsnyder to show a little more with the bat in the future, but at the same time, it feels like if the Yankees were going to give him the chance to be an everyday player for them it would have happened by now.