With questions surrounding the New York Yankees’ options at second base, the team is “leaning toward” a platoon with Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder in 2016, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
Both Ackley and Refsnyder are young, cost-controlled options at the keystone for the Yankees. Also, considering how Stephen Drew’s season at the plate went, his stint in New York is likely over.
Signing a one-year, $5 million contract prior to 2015, Drew ended up getting the lion’s share of time at second base. However, the left-handed Drew struggled offensively for most of the season.
The former Arizona Diamondback saw his batting average sit under.200 for most of the season. While he did contribute 17 HR, his feeble.201 BA was a large reason why the Yankees’ production at second base was shaky at best. But Drew defended his lack of production earlier in the year when he spoke with NJ.
“The numbers sometimes don’t tell you how you’re really hitting. You go back to earlier in April, when I was hitting balls good, and at home against Kansas City, I could have easily had four or five hits. Sometimes it’s a humbling game and it’s not getting too high or too low.”
Despite options such as Ben Zobrist and Martin Prado available at the trade deadline, the Yankees did not acquire one of those established players. In fact, GM Brian Cashman revealed after the Yankees’ elimination in the AL Wild Card game that he turned down a proposed trade of Ben Zobrist-for-Adam Warren and Refsnyder.
Instead, they acquired Ackley, a former second overall draft pick in 2009 whose career has been viewed as a disappointment up until that point. To make matters worse, he hit the disabled list after just one game as a Yankee. Upon his return to the team, Ackley showed some life in the bat that once made him a top draft pick.
Prior to the trade, Ackley had made a transition from second base to the outfield. But the Yankees felt comfortable having him return to his roots and play at second. Still, just 27-years-old, time is on Ackley’s side and both he and the Yankees hope he was able to fix both his defense and swing.
As for the 24-year-old Refsnyder, he was viewed as one of the Yankees’ top prospects entering 2015. Some even thought of him as a potential long term fixture at second base. But he got a mere cup of coffee in the major leagues as despite getting a mid-season call-up, Refsnyder was sent down after just four games with roster spots needed for returning veteran players.
At the time, Refsnyder expressed his disappointment with being sent down but getting the opportunity to play in majors, via the New York Post.
“I wasn’t expecting this, but I had a great experience. I got my feet wet. I saw what major league pitching, defense, what it was all about.”
A converted outfielder, Refsnyder was reportedly still in need to improving his defensive skills at second base, which manager Joe Girardi thought needed “little adjustments.”
However, in their relatively brief stints on the field, both Refsnyder and Ackley provided top notch offensive production. In 23 games (52 AB’s) with the Yankees, Ackley hit.288 with four HR and 11 RBI. Refsnyder hit.302 with two HR and five RBI in 16 games (43 AB’s) with the Yankees.
In total, Ackley and Refsnyder made just 104 combined plate appearances in pinstripes. Yet, their combined performance obviously impressed the team enough to at least give them both an extended look in Spring Training next year.
There are more proven options set to hit free agency this offseason. Names such as the aforementioned Zobrist, Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick, and Chase Utley. Although, with his recent exploits, Utley may not be welcomed in a New York anytime soon.
The Yankees have made it clear that they prefer not to part with top prospects or give out any large contracts this offseason, so a platoon between two in-house candidates is as viable a solution as any.
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