With Opening Day just over one week away, the New York Yankees have made some last minute moves as the team begins to finalize their 25-man roster to start the season.
Outfielder Chris Denorfia, who the team inked to a minor league deal in early March, has exercised his right to opt-out of the contract by the end of the month, the Yankees announced on Sunday. The 35-year-old had his moments during his brief stint with the Yankees, including a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles last Friday in an eventual 11-10 loss.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 25, 2016
Also putting some defensive prowess on display, Denorfia did not do enough to warrant a position on the Yankees’ major league roster. In 11 games this spring, Denorfia hit just.200 through 25 at-bats with one HR and five RBI. A 10-year veteran, Denorfia spent last season in a platoon role with the Chicago Cubs, hitting.269 with three HR and 18 RBI in 103 games (212 at-bats).
Speaking to YES Network after signing with the Yankees, Denorfia expressed excitement about playing for an organization with a similar fanbase to the Cubs, in terms of passion.
“Oh man, it was absolutely nuts (in Chicago). Talk about a starved fan base, they were great the whole way through. Even when we were down big in the NLCS, they never stopped supporting us and were always behind us, and it was pretty cool. From growing up, I know how fervent the Yankees fans are, so I’m looking forward to hopefully playing for them.”
Denorfia may be unemployed for now, but he could latch on with a team in need of outfield help. The Orioles, who reportedly have considered releasing offseason signee Hyun Soo Kim, are searching for outfield help. Also, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Phillies are in search of outfield depth.
Some outfielders that hit the market today: Will Venable and Chris Denorfia. Phillies are looking.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) March 27, 2016
In a more surprising move, the Yankees announced that top prospect and infielder Rob Refsnyder was reassigned to minor league camp. Many viewed Refsnyder as a near lock for the opening day roster as the team’s backup infielder. In 17 games this spring, Refsnyder hit.267 with one HR and three RBI.
Refsnyder played third base for the first time this spring and the transition did not go smoothly. In both Friday and Saturday’s games, Refsnyder suffered bruises and cuts after groundballs to third base came up high and hit his face. Refsnyder left both games early.
Watching Refsnyder struggle at the hot corner was the driving force behind the Yankees’ decision.
“We want him to go down and get more reps at third. We’ll continue to try to improve him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told YES Network.
— theScore (@theScore) March 27, 2016
There is still one remaining spot on the Yankees’ bench as Opening Day approaches. Bryan Hoch of MLB notes that the only remaining infielders for the final spot in camp are Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes. The 23-year-old Torreyes has hit.286 this spring in 18 games (28 at-bats). The defensive-minded Kozma is just a.150 hitter this spring in 12 games (20 at-bats).
As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes, it’s possible the Yankees acquire an infielder late next week when teams begin making their final cuts. The Yankees open their season on April 4 with a three-game series against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium.
[Featured Image by Jeff Roberson/AP Photo]