Yankees: With Greg Bird out 6-8 Weeks, who will play first base?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Tyler Austin
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: Tyler Austin /

Over the last two years, rookies, veterans, and former all-stars have all failed to hold on to the Yankees first base job. Once again, Greg Bird is out after suffering a small broken spur on the outside aspect of his right ankle. Who will step up this time?

As Yankees great Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Here’s the official announcement form Yankees twitter in regards to Greg Bird:

The Curse of First

If you’re a fan of fantasy baseball, you probably already know the MLB has a plethora of decent first baseman. But since 2016, the injury-prone Greg Bird and Tyler Austin have caused the Yankees to use 14 different starting (not so great) first basemen.

"Yankees who have started at 1B the last two years:Mark TeixeiraRob RefsnyderTyler AustinDustin AckleyIke DavisBilly ButlerAustin RomineChris ParmeleeChris CarterGreg BirdChase HeadleyGarrett CooperMatt HollidayJi-Man Choihttps://t.co/vAvqG600o8— Billy Witz (@billywitz) March 24, 2018"

The Yankees keep signing old first basemen who are beyond their prime to fill a temporary void.  It’s similar to how the Arizona Cardinals keep signing veteran injury-plagued quarterbacks. While the strategy covers a wound, the production output has been among the worst in the league over the past two seasons.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Top options to replace Bird

The first option might be the veteran, Neil Walker. The versatile switch-hitting 32-year-old signed with the Yankees for a cheap 1-year $4 million deal. According to MLB.com’s Brian Hoch, Walker’s role when he signed was to fill in all over the infield at first, second and even third. You would think now after the Bird news he’ll spend a lot more time at first.

Tyler Austin seems like another obvious choice to replace Bird, but we haven’t heard he will be the starter yet. What more does he need to do? The obvious answer is staying healthy.

While Bird is viewed as fragile because of his foot problem, Austin has also had a share of nagging injuries. During batting practice last spring, he fouled a ball of his foot that fractured his left ankle.  The freak-accident caused the 26-year-old to land on the 60-day DL.

Austin would later return during the season only to suffer an immediate hamstring injury after he was activated to replace the injured Garrett Cooper.

After the Bird news was announced it appears Austin will get another shot at the majors, according to reports:

Last week Austin was optioned to the minors, but now that he’s back CBS Sports believes he is a likely option against left-handed pitching while Bird is out. On Saturday following the Yankees 9-3 split-squad victory over the Atlanta Braves, Austin told NJ.com reporters he is “ready for whatever the situation is.” He had a great Spring Training and owns a .361 batting average against lefties, including a monster shot last year against Chris Sale.

Here’s that majestic shot:

On Opening Day the Yankees are scheduled to play against Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, so don’t be surprised if we see Austin on Thursday.

One option outside of the 25-man roster is former top-100 Prospect Billey McKinney. McKinney is primarily an outfielder, but this spring he started to learn how to place first to increase his value. Mike Calendrillo wrote here about how McKinney could become the best pro from the Aroldis Chapman deal with the Chicago Cubs.

If Bird continues to stay unhealthy and Austin and Walker don’t produce, McKinney could be the future first baseman sooner rather than later.

Next: Can Montgomery take the next step in 2018?

The only other options the Yankees have to fill in on their 25-man roster is backup catcher Austin Romine. They also have Mike Ford, who they recently reacquired from the Seattle Mariners who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft.

The big name to keep an eye on is Miguel Andujar who is scheduled to play 20% of his games at first base according to GM Brian Cashman.