The Yankees are one contract extension away from having second base locked up through the decade. Robinson Cano has emerged as one of the best, most-reliable hitters in baseball. And he’s done it while playing a position that’s often a source of more defense than offense. The job should belong to Cano for quite a while.
In the big leagues
There hasn’t been much need for a backup lately. Cano plays almost everyday, and he hits against lefties and righties. Defensively, he’s a perpetual Gold Glove candidate with a knack for making plays to his right, where he can show off his tremendous arm. Of course, it’s the bat that makes Cano really shine. His slash line the past three seasons is .314/.361/.529, and Joe Girardi is at least tinkering with the idea of finally making Cano a regular No. 3 hitter. As it stands, the Yankees have picked up Cano’s option for 2012, and they’ll certainly do the same with Cano’s option for 2013. At this point, it has to be only a matter of time before the Yankees commit to Cano with a new multi-year deal that keeps second base in his hands for the foreseeable future.
On the verge
The Yankees have considerable on-the-verge depth at second base, but they don’t necessarily have a singular standout at the position. Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo and Jayson Nix can play the position and have big league experience. The Yankees also just added second basemen Corban Joseph and David Adams to the 40-man roster, putting them one phone call away from playing a role in the big leagues. Joseph is a Russo-type, with some defensive flexibility and a steady bat. Adams is the more dynamic prospect with a potentially bigger bat, but he’s also coming back from an injury that’s cost him most of the past two seasons. Everyone mentioned here could be in Triple-A this season, with all but Nunez and Adams — because of the injury — likely to open there.
Deep in the system
The abundance of second basemen at the top of the Yankees organization should provide depth while the team waits for its next wave of middle infielders to advance from the lowest levels. The place to start is probably 2010 second-round pick Angelo Gumbs, who had solid across-the-board numbers in Staten Island, where he often hit third last season. He should get his first taste of full-season ball this year. Right behind Gumbs, the Yankees have Claudio Custodio and Jose Rosario out of the Dominican Republic — both can play second or short — and they also have Anderson Feliz, another Dominican second baseman who had a disappointing full-season debut with Charleston last season. A wild card in this discussion is Ronnier Mustelier, a Cuban utility man who made a strong first impression last season and can play all over the field, including second base.
Organizational depth chart
My rough guess. It’s too early for the Yankees to decide who will be where next season.
New York: Robinson Cano
Scranton/WB: Corban Joseph
Trenton: David Adams
Tampa: Kelvin Castro
Charleston: Angelo Gumbs
Adams’ assignment could depend on his health and how he looks in spring training, but Double-A seems most likely. Ultimately, there are a lot of guys who could get some second base playing time up and down the organization — Reegie Corona, Kevin Mahoney, Doug Bernier — and the lack of a no-doubt standout isn’t much cause for concern because of the guy already playing the position in New York. Tampa’s second baseman is a bit tough to guess, because I suppose Anderson Feliz could move up so that he’ll continue getting regular at-bats despite a rocky year in Charleston.
Associated Press photo of Cano, headshots of Cano, Joseph and Gumbs