The New York Yankees have had a quiet offseason so far, picking up a few guys and solidifying their team. But with the recent injury to Greg Bird, who was expected to be the backup for starter Mark Teixeira, the team is left with a hole to fill. With Teixeira missing the end of last season due to an injury, there has to be a concern about whether he will be healthy for the entire 2016 campaign. With a number of talented first basemen out on the market, the Yankees should reach out and sign one before they are left with no options.
The current backup first baseman, according to the Yankees official depth chart, is Dustin Ackley. Ackley is also listed as a backup for a number of positions for the Yankees, due to his ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond. The Yankees were counting on Bird to fill this backup role, but surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder ended his 2016 season before it started. With players reporting for spring training in a few days, there are still a number of first basemen the Yankees could sign to a short deal to fill that gap and solidify a backup for Teixeira.
The Yankees were pursing Ike Davis, but he recently signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers. There are a number of first basemen still unemployed, who would jump at the opportunity to play for one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. One of those players is Justin Morneau. Morneau, who missed most of the 2015 season due to various injuries, is a solid left-handed bat. While his days of 30-plus home runs are over, he still can hit for average. The 2006 American League Most Valuable Player is a .282 career hitter and was the 2014 National League batting champion. While his age is certainly a concern at 34, Morneau wants to come back and prove that he can still play the game, and a season in New York could help his value for the rest of his career.
Another name that the Yankees should consider is former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez. The power-hitting lefty has yet to sign with a team, and was thought to be getting a large contract in the beginning of the offseason. But he is still unsigned, and probably a little desperate at this point. Alvarez is not known for his average, but he is for his power numbers. Over his six-year career, El Toro has blasted 131 home runs. With the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium, that number could only increase. Alvarez is also a guy who could fill in at designated hitter or even third base if needed.
Both of these men are great ballplayers and will be an asset to whatever team they do end up signing with. While their style of hitting is different, they both have their advantages. Morneau will get on base and occasionally drive in runs, while Alvarez will blast home runs. Bottom line, the Yankees need a backup first baseman because relying on Teixeira to play every day and not get hurt is unlikely. These are the best two candidates out there to fill this hole, and unless the Yankees are secretly grooming someone else to play first, they should sign one of these two ballplayers.