The New York Yankees reportedly like first baseman Eric Hosmer, but he may be the right free agent at the wrong time.  

Since the start of the 2016 season, no team has performed worse at the first base position (offensively) than the New York Yankees.

Yankee first basemen own a .235/.314/.385 slash line in that span with a wRC+ of 86 — the worst among Major League teams — thanks to a sub par season from Mark Teixeira last year, multiple Greg Bird injuries and back-ups forced to step in.

While Chase Headley stepped in and is performing up-to-par in 44 games since moving primarily to first base (.326/.402/.563 slash line since July 20), 2018 very well could experience a fall-off yet again.

Bird is struggling since his return from the disabled list (9-for-37 since August 26) and Headley will likely shift back over to third base as Todd Frazier‘s contract at year’s end. There are some names general manager Brian Cashman could turn to free agency in order to prevent another fall-off, but the name they like the most might not be a realistic option.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, New York “likes” Kansas City Royals’ first baseman Eric Hosmer very much, but the desire to remain below the luxury tax threshold may “prevent them from making a big run at Hosmer” when he hits the free agent market this winter.

In 140 games this season, the 27-year-old is slashing .319/.385/.507 with 24 home runs and an OPS of .892 — the eighth-best among qualified Major League first basemen. The Yankees expressed interest this past July but weren’t in a position to ship prospects for a rental.

Next season, it’s likely they remain patient with Bird after an insanely frustrating 2017 season. Whether they trust him to tap into the potential he demonstrated in 2015 or not, he is making $545,500 this year and likely close to league minimum next year. Avoiding a hefty investment in Hosmer while continuing to assess Bird could provide clarity to their pursuit of the stacked 2018-19 free agent class

Other Yankees’ Notes:

  • New York’s second-best prospect, Clint Frazier, continued his rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder on Saturday night and went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against the Binghampton Rumble Ponies. He is now 2-for-17 (.118) with 10 strikeouts in four games in Double-A and could return to the Yankees as early as next week. The 23-year-old last played on August 8 before suffering an oblique strain.
  • According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Yankees signed 16-year-old shortstop Ronny Rojas to a $1 million contract on Saturday. Rojas was the 11th-best international prospect according to MLB Pipeline in 2017.