Thursday, July 16, 2015

If Yankees’ Refsnyder is in, who is out?

The New York Yankees finally called up second baseman Rob Refsnyder Saturday and he had a productive weekend series in Boston going 2-for-7 with a two-run home run. It looks as though he is going to stick around for at least a little bit. At issue, is the Yankees have Brendan Ryan and Carlos Beltran ready to come off the disabled list in the very near future. Who on the Yankees’ roster becomes expendable?

Rob Refsnyder
Photo credit: Tom Hagerty via Flickr
The first candidate is easy enough to figure out; Gregorio Petit. He was signed just before the season began when Ryan went down with his first injury. Petit has not been used much (20 games, 47 plate appearances, 27 OPS+) and has been underwhelming in his appearances. With a glut of players in the infield, Petit becomes a disposable piece. He likely clears waivers and accepts a position at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If not, who cares?

It’s not certain who will be ready first, but what happens when Ryan or Beltran is the second of the two to be ready to be activated? We know Beltran gets a spot back on the 25-man roster, but it seems that after removing Petit, it’s either Ryan or Stephen Drew who is next to get lopped off if Refsnyder sticks with the club.

In my view there does not seem to be a more logical choice than to keep the left-handed hitting Drew and designate the right-handed hitting Ryan for assignment. Ryan is in the midst of the second year of a two-year contract in which he is earning $2 million. He has a team option for the 2016 season at $2 million, or a player option of $1 million. The Yankees owe Drew a little more than $2.5 million of his $5 million contract at this point. Nevertheless, I do not believe this is a financial issue.

Ryan has been injured more often than he’s been helpful to the Yankees. He’s played in 55 of the Yankees’ 250 games since the beginning of last season, amounting to 139 plate appearances and a 30 OPS+. When he is on the field he is an all-glove player; always has been. Now he cannot stay on the field and his handedness being the same as Refsnyder’s combined with his inability to hit makes Drew, who at least has some thump, a better choice. Drew, a fine fielder himself, can play all the same positions as Ryan. Maybe someone sees some value in Ryan, but if not he might welcome a spot at Scranton.

Further, creating a more or less strict platoon between Refsnyder and Drew makes a lot of sense. That scenario puts the veteran in better hitting situations and allows Refsnyder a way to ease into playing full-time. If Refsnyder holds his own, or better, shows more aptitude with the bat and glove than expected, he could garner more time in the lineup reducing Drew to a bench player.

In the short term, this allows the Yankees to see what they have and assists them in making a determination concerning trades for a second baseman for the rest of this season. What if the Yankees are considering a trade with Refsnyder being a piece to go? They have Drew to fall back on as the backup to the player brought in. This makes Ryan unessential either way.

For me this is an easy decision. Drew offers a fine bench option and Refsnyder gets a 10-day or so audition and either runs with it or is sent packing for Triple-A or elsewhere. Ryan and Petit are dead weight no matter how this falls out.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.