The Yankees have one open spot on their bench, and they have no clear-cut backup at third base.
Should we expect the team to add a corner infielder between now and the start of spring training?
“We’ll see,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We might do some non-roster invites, but we also think (Starlin) Castro can swing over (to third base) and plug a hole there.”
Although Castro has not played third base since rookie ball — and even then, he played only a handful of games at third — the Yankees believe his athleticism and experience on the left side of the diamond will let him handle third base without a problem. Cashman was clear in saying Castro was acquired primarily to play second base, but the Yankees see him as a versatile infielder who’s capable of handling shortstop and third base whenever Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley need a break.
It had not.
“Alex is a DH,” Cashman said
While Dustin Ackley can play second base, first base and all three outfield positions, Cashman said Ackley will not see any time at third base. For now, neither will Rob Refsnyder. Cashman said there are no plans of converting Refsnyder into a utility man by teaching him third base or occasionally putting him back in the outfield.
“That’s not a conversation that we’ve had,” Cashman said. “Right now, our focus is still for him at second, but I’ll always leave the door open for us to adjust as we move forward. But, for now, we have not had any of those conversations to move him off second. … Obviously if we have an injury on the left side of the infield, (Refsnyder can come up to play second base, and) Castro can swing over.”
Essentially, Castro’s perceived versatility means Refsnyder can serve as the Triple-A backup at three infield positions, even if he plays only one of those positions.
So what are the Yankees going to do with that open spot on their bench?
Cashman left open the possibility of inviting a veteran to compete for the job in spring training, but he also brought up the idea of using that open spot to fill various needs throughout the year. Maybe the Yankees will carry an extra arm for a few days, then add a spare outfielder if there’s a nagging injury, then call up a useful hitter when the matchups are favorable, then go back to an extra reliever, then back to a traditional bench player. That fourth bench spot doesn’t have to belong to a one player. It could be a bench version of the bullpen shuttle that brought several relievers back and forth from Triple-A last year.
“We could have an open bench spot,” Cashman said. “Maybe we use that with a revolving door with position players and/or pitching, depending on what our needs are.”
Associated Press photos