All the talk on MLB Radio and other places this morning was how Pablo Sandoval’s deal will help Chase Headley get a bigger and longer contract.
The Yankees have gone on record stating they want to bring Headley back – the price doesn’t really matter here, but agent Casey Close will certainly push for a 4- or 5-year deal. The legitimate question on Headley, who really has had just one All-Star season in 2012, hitting 31 homers and driving in 115 runs, is it good for the Yankees to be saddled with another long-term deal?
In Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Mark Teixeira, they already have plenty. If David Robertson re-signs, that will be another. Do the Yankees need to give a man who will play most of the 2015 season, with back issues, a 4- or 5-year deal?
This corner feels that is not in the best interest of the Yankees. Why get into a bidding war for a guy who, 2012 aside, has never hit more than 13 homers, driven more than 64 runs and has a career OPS of .756, not bad, but not great?
A more prudent solution might be to move Martin Prado to third base, which he can handle easily, and let prospects Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder battle for the job at second base in spring training. It’s time to bite the bullet and give some of these kids a legitimate shot to help the team instead of saddling the roster with another multi-year contract.
Both can hit. Pirela, 25, batted .305 (163-for-581) at Triple-A Scranton and has a career minor-league average of .273. His OPS last year was .791. He just turned 25 and, after his cup of coffee with the Yankees at the end of 2014, is having a good season with Zulia in the Venezuelan League. He is playing some second base, his best position, some third base, which is not, and the outfield, where he is more than adequate, for Zuila.
He has worked hard to make himself adequate at second base, improving his footwork and turning the double play. He certainly is as good defensively as Kelly Johnson was when Atlanta made him a second baseman in 2007.
Refsnyder got many excited in 2014 by hitting .342 (78-for-244) with an OPS of .933 in 60 games at Double-A Trenton last season. He then batted ,300 (86-for-287) at Triple-A Scranton, ending 2014 with a combined average of .318 (164-for-515) with 38 doubles, 6 triples, 14 homers, 63 RBIs and an OPS of .833.
“Rob’s hitting plays at the big-league level now,” said Trenton manager Tony Franklin. “He knows he has to improve his defense.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he is determined to see Refsnyder become an adequate second baseman. He is younger than Pirela at 23.
It would be nice to see the Yankees produce a position player, and with Prado in the house to play third base, there are two legitimate candidates to play second base on the system. Let them battle it out in Tampa next spring. It would be fun to see. Obviously either would have to play aside a strong defensive shortstop with some offensive ability, but it’s seriously worth a shot.
The Yankees system is rapidly improving. A young third baseman named Miguel Andujar is beginning to move up in the system. He profiles as an everyday third baseman of the future. By 2018, the combination of first baseman Greg Bird and outfielder Aaron Judge may turn into one of baseball’s best power duos.
Rather than dole out another long-term contract that could paralyze the Yankees roster further, placing Prado at third, acquiring the needed shortstop and letting Pirela and Refsnyder and newly signed Nick Noonan battle for the second-base job makes a lot of sense.