Now that the end of the New York Yankees/Rob Refsnyder relationship seems to be near, a trade proposed in 2015 should have been accepted.
The former top prospect, who was named New York’s eighth-best by Baseball America in 2016, was a highly touted prospect out of the University of Arizona and was once regarded as a candidate to become the Yankees’ second baseman of the future.
However, the acquisition of Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs before the 2016 season sent Refsnyder into the role of a utility man, as he saw time at second base (eight games), left field (five games) third base (one game), right field (23 games) and first base (27 games) during his 58-game stint with the Bombers last season.
As the Yankees dealt with several injury problems at certain positions, Refsnyder didn’t necessarily fill the void, as he slashed .250/.328/.309 with no home runs. In camp this spring, he’s just 2-for-17 (.118) with eight strikeouts in six spring training games during a time when he has to be virtually perfect in order to make the 25-man roster.
With that, it’s apparent that the 25-year-old will be in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to kickoff 2017, using up his final minor league option and will essentially guarantee the Yankees won’t get a sizeable offer for him unless he’s packaged with other prospects or dealt for cash considerations from a rebuilding team.
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That type of trade would be a far cry from the last time Rob Refsnyder’s name was included in trade talks. At the 2015 trade deadline, New York reportedly declined a trade offer that would’ve sent Refsnyder and long reliever Adam Warren to the Oakland Athletics for Ben Zobrist — an offer that now looks like it should have been accepted.
When general manager Brian Cashman rejected the deal, he passed on a super-utility man that slashed .284/.364/.453 with a .816 OPS and hit seven home runs for the team that did trade for him, the Kansas City Royals. Zobrist also went 20-for-66 (.303) in the postseason, playing an integral role in the Royals’ first World Series win since 1985.
As for Yankee second basemen (Refsnyder, Stephen Drew, Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan, Jose Pirela and Gregorio Petit), they slashed .251/.301/.425 with a .726 OPS throughout the second half and while they hit three more home runs than Zobrist did in Kansas City, the group struck out in 20.4 percent of their at-bats en route to a Wild Card game elimination.
It’s certainly understandable that Cashman held off on dealing Refsnyder at the time. He was considered by Baseball America to be the Yankees No. 8 prospect after the 2015 season and, again, the “future.”
The predicament with that assessment is that Yankees wouldn’t trade Refsnyder for a proven super-utility player that not only packs a clutch bat, but is also someone who could have helped the Bombers advance into the ALDS for the first time since 2012 only because Refsnyder possessed enormous potential.
Then, they passed on that same potential by trading for Castro, which simply blocked Refsnyder’s last chance to become the starting second baseman. New York is now struggling to make him a super-utility man — after passing on an elite one a couple of months prior.
This all comes after the Yankees decided not to assess what they had in Refsnyder before the 2015 season by signing Stephen Drew to a one-year, $5 million deal in January.
The Yankees, by not seeing if Refsnyder’s raw toolset could translate onto the diamond (although his performance in limited time didn’t do him justice), has thrown away any further hope for him to produce in the Bronx.
Now, the organization is faced with a predicament they can’t avoid. Although they won’t wheel in a valuable veteran utility man for his services anymore, settling for the always exciting “PTBNL” and/or cash considerations from a team willing to get Refsnyder consistent time in the majors mode could be on the horizon.
One thing’s for sure, he won’t travel up north with the New York Yankees in 2017, he will not be a future superstar in the Bronx and his time in Pinstripes is approaching the end.