Mark Teixeira will be counted on for the New York Yankees more than ever, as prospect Greg Bird goes down with season-ending surgery.
By William Chase
As unlikely as it may have seemed, there were talks of trade rumors (chatter?) earlier this offseason surrounding New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira amid Greg Bird‘s emergence late last season.
Considering the veteran first baseman is a free agent following 2016, and Bird looking like he was ready to take over first base today, the situation would put New York in a quandary.
GM Brian Cashman had said Bird would start 2016 in the minors, though news emerged Monday that he will miss the entire 2016 season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 1, 2016
Good thing Tex isn’t going anywhere.
When healthy, Mark can still produce with the bat, but defensively, he’s among the best in the game.
Of course it’s the health factor that is the wild card with Tex. He hasn’t come close to playing a full season since 2011 when he played 156 games. Wrist problems limited him in 2012, and he only played 15 games in 2013.
He hit .255 in 111 games last season, and Yankees fans saw a resurgence in power, as he had 31 home runs and 79 driven in. A fluke injury, in which he fouled a pitch off his shin, ended his season.
Enter Greg Bird.
Bird came up to replace Teixeira, and wound up hitting .261, 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games.
A small sample size, it still was enough for many to think Bird should be on the opening day roster in 2016. Even though the injury puts aside that issue, there’s still the issue of what happens in case Teixeira gets hurt. And that seems likely.
Per the Yankees current depth chart, Chase Headley and Dustin Ackley slot in as possible backups at first. Ackley only has 22 games to his name at first base, eight starts, and made three of those starts for New York last season.
Headley has only made 10 appearances at first base in his career, six starts, and those six came for New York last season.
While it’s probably a pipe dream at this point to count on Tex for a whole season, it’s the best option New York has.