Even With Carter, The Kids Come First
In a rather surprising move, Brian Cashman inked the reigning National League home run co-leader Chris Carter to a one-year, $3.5 million contract for the 2017 season, adding a massive righty power presence to the roster.
While some are worried this might take away at-bats from Tyler Austin or other “Baby Bombers,” Girardi explained how the slugger’s at-bats will be determined on how the young guys do. The Yankee manager said Greg Bird or Austin could win the first base job.
In 31 games last season, Austin slashed .241/.300/.458 with an OPS of .758 and five home runs. Despite striking out in 43% of his total at-bats, New York’s 13th round pick of the 2010 draft went 6-for-12 with two home runs in his last five games.
Against left-handers, he slashed .348/.444/.652 and maintained a 1.097 OPS while maintaining the highest clutch rating among Yankee hitters with at least 80 at-bats.
Bird, who’s recovering from a torn right labrum, had an impressive cameo in 2015 (11 HR in 46 games) but is looking to shake off the rust demonstrated in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year old slashed just .215/.346/.364 and hit one home run in 17 games.
So, at least from Girardi’s words, it appears as though Carter is the third string first baseman and insurance in case the injury bug bites extra hard this season. Since 2013, Carter has hit the sixth-most home runs in the major leagues.