The New York Yankees called up left-handed slugging prospect Greg Bird last month for a few games to give him a taste of the big leagues. He had reached AAA and was hitting well. The Yankees wanted to give him some games at the big league level to see what he was truly capable of. It was supposed to be a short stay. That quickly changed when veteran first baseman Mark Teixeira fouled a ball off his right shin and found himself sidelined for an extended period of time. That meant Bird’s stay in the major leagues would last a bit longer. Soon his stay became permanent when it was announced Teixeira would be out for the rest of the season due to a fracture in his shin. Now Bird is getting his chance as an everyday starter and if he can make the most of it, that could give the Yankees something to think about over the offseason.
So far on the year Bird has hit .250/.336/.518 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. His OPS is an impressive .854. His career is only 32 games old, but the early signs are definitely positive. He has been able to bring the same power that made him one of the Yankees’ top prospects in the minors to the big leagues. The Yankees will either play in the ALDS or the wild card play-in game depending on how the rest of the season plays out. This will allow Bird to have the opportunity to continue to shine as the replacement for Teixeira or fall flat on his face. Should he fall flat then he will most likely begin next season at AAA. Should he shine the rest of the way this season, then things will become interesting. Bird is the eventual replacement for Teixeira. The only question is if he will take over next season or in 2017.
Teixeira will be playing on the last year of the $180 million deal he signed with the Yankees back in 2008. Despite injuries over the past few years he has performed well for the club. He’s on the wrong side of 30, however. He will be 36 next year and that is not young. The Yankees started a youth movement this season with several young players such as Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi already providing positive results.
The Yankees were not expecting to be without Teixeira for the most important stretch of he season, but so far they have been able to stay strong as Bird has been able to stabilize the lineup with his left-handed power. If he can play well the rest of the way by continuing to showcase his power then the Yankees may need to consider whether or not they supplant Bird at first base over Teixiera and part ways with the switch-handed slugger.
Moving the veteran is easier said than done of course. However he is playing the last year of his massive deal in 2016 and had a great rebound year this season before getting hurt. He had hit .255/.357/.548 with 31 home runs and 79 RBIs. He showed that the power that had made him a feared hitter in his prime was still there and he could be as dangerous as ever. He is owed a total of $23.125 MM for 2016. The Yankees will need to eat a large chunk of that if they indeed decide to pursue a trade for the slugger. Finding a taker for Teixeira may not be as difficult as one would think as power is at a premium these days and having a power hitter like Teixiera hitting in any lineup should be enticing to any team hoping to bolster its lineup for a postseason berth next year. For right now Mark Teixeira will be the Opening Day first baseman for the New York Yankees in 2016. Should Bird continue to show success at the plate though through the rest of the way, then perhaps there may be a change in plans this offseason.