Is Yankee GM Brian Cashman trying to show Robinson Cano how little the Yankees miss him by playing shortstops (SS) at second base (2B)?
Cano's final Yankee season was 2013. Cashman correctly let free agent Cano walk and take that ridiculously big ten year offer from Seattle. In 2014 Cashman went along with what evolved into the Derek Jeter farewell tour. Cashman and the Steinbrenner Kids felt stuck with 40 year old Jeter at SS and tried to back fill at 2B with 36 year old Brian Roberts. Roberts did not work and was eventually replaced by 31 year old SS Stephen Drew, acquired July 31 for 2B Kelly Johnson; Drew played his first Yankee game at 2B. The Yankees already had SS Brendan Ryan. So at that point the Yankees had three SS and no 2B.
Cashman had already added a second center fielder (CF) for seasons 2014-2020: Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees already had CF Brett Gardner who was placed in left. Since their games were so similar, Ellsbury was redundant, a Cashman theme. This is not counting the addition of Carlos Beltran, once a great CF who now was too old and broken down to play well in right. Beltran will play for the Yankees 2014-2016 at ages 37, 38, 39.
Box score for 2014:
SS: Jeter, Ryan, Drew
CF: Ellsbury, Gardner
To replace Jeter, who finally retired, Cashman acquired 25 year old DiDi Gregorius. This was the youth movement. The Yanks still had both Drew and Ryan, who had most of the 2B playing time. Still no real replacement for Cano but with a top prospect seemingly ready to become the Yankee 2B of the future: 24 year old Rob Refsnyder. Refsnyder never got a real chance: 47 plate appearances.
Box score for 2015:
SS: Gregorius, Ryan, Drew
CF: Ellsbury, Gardner
For 2016 Cashman acquired: another SS (Starlin Castro) and another CF (Aaron Hicks). You can't make this up. Castro games:
- 844 SS
- 38 2B.
So guess where Cashman intends to play Castro and pay over $40 million over the next four years? Right, 2B.
Hicks is the fourth OF who will most likely replace the aging Beltran. That will give Cashman three Brett Gardners: CF with speed but no power.
Box score for 2016:
SS: Gregorius, Castro
CF: Ellsbury, Gardner, Hicks
Refsnyder will be buried in AAA minor league. Greg Bird (11 homers in 157 at bats) is the Yankee first baseman of the future but is blocked by 35 year old incumbent Mark Teixeira for the 2016 season, after which Teixeira becomes a free agent. That and Cashman's apparent intent to deny Bird a year of eligibility for arbitration and free agency. Maybe that factors into the treatment of Refsnyder but Bird is blocked and Refsnyder is not so there must be more. Refsnyder is almost exactly a year younger than Castro and would be paid the minimum for the next three years. Castro will get over $40 million total for four years. Gregorius was paid half a million in 2015 but he just signed a one year contract for $2,425,000. Why only one year if Gregorius is the SS of the future?
I'm starting to wonder if Refsnyder is involved in that law suit brought by minor league players to get more money. That's a subject for a future post.