Two of my closest friends had their first baby last March. Schulyer Grace Anthony was not yet born when Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees. If all goes well, she’ll be in third grade by the time the Yankees need a new first baseman. In short, that’s the state of the Yankees at first base. It’s Teixeira’s position, and wondering what comes next is the same as asking whether you have any plans for 2017.
Starter: Mark Teixeira
Backup: Nick Johnson
Veteran insurance: Juan Miranda
Almost ready: Jorge Vazquez
Low rising: Brandon Laird
I realize Miranda isn’t a veteran in the traditional sense, but after hitting .288/.375/.476 in the past two Triple-A seasons, he’s as ready as he’s ever going to be. He’s no Gold Glover, but he’s not the defensive butcher he’s sometimes made out to be. There could be worse options as Teixeira’s Triple-A caddy, especially considering Johnson and Nick Swisher can also handle first base. Vazquez has lived up to his power-hitting reputation, and 1B/3B Laird should bring his considerable pop to Trenton this season. But, obviously, first base is all about Teixeira unless an injury gets in the way.
Worst-case scenario: The last five words of the previous paragraph: “injury gets in the way.” At this point, Teixeira is a proven force. It’s silly to speculate a worst-case scenario of him falling on his face. He struggled early last year and finished as an MVP candidate. Teixeira can hit, he can field and he’s only once played fewer than 145 games in a season. He’s about as reliable as they come. If, for some reason, he can’t produce this season, then the worst-case scenario obviously involves some combination of Johnson being injured, Miranda struggling in his first real big league exposure and Vazquez stumbling in his second year in the Yankees organization.
Best-case scenario: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 American League MVP, Mark Teixeira. The best-case scenario at first base is that simple. Digging a little deeper, it probably also involves a dominant Triple-A season from Miranda, leading to his trade value soaring through the roof while Vazquez crushes home runs night after night in Trenton and Scranton. The best-case scenario for Laird actually doesn’t involve first base at all, it involves him proving he can stick at third.
The future: The only way the Yankees first base future gets murky is if Teixeira ages poorly, or if the Yankees need first base as a future home for either Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter, but all of that is wild guesswork and extreme speculation. Teixeira is signed through 2016, and for now, that’s the only first-base future that matters.
An attempt at the complete depth chart
An educated guess, but just a guess
Scranton: Juan Miranda
Trenton: Jorge Vazquez
Tampa: Brian Baisley? (probably several guys getting occasional starts at first)
Charleston: Rob Lyerly, Luke Murton
Extended: Reymond Nunez