News broke last Thursday that, if they decide to sell, the Yankees have considered releasing Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Given the lack of production from both players, an argument can be made that the team might even be better without them anyways. If the Yankees do end up releasing one or both of the formerly great players, there will be a domino effect in this season’s roster and next.
Release Just Alex Rodriguez
In this scenario, the Yankees immediately free up the DH spot, moving Carlos Beltran out of right field and into his true position at this point in his career. Aaron Hicks, who has struggled this season but might benefit from some regular playing time, would take over everyday duties in right field. The outfield would improve defensively due to a major upgrade in range from Beltran (-14.7 UZR/150* in right field) to Hicks (7.6 UZR/150 in right field). Beltran might see an occasional start in the field and the position would be backed up by Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes.
Playing Hicks this season would be a good idea because he is the only right fielder for the Yankees under contract for next season. The Yankees will probably be considering top prospect Aaron Judge at that point, but if they don’t think he’s ready, they will need to know if Hicks is a viable option or not.
Release Just Mark Teixeira
If Teixeira just can’t stay healthy, or if his production stays so low (56 wRC+ this season), the Yankees might decide to stick with Rob Refsnyder as their every day first baseman for the rest of the season and release Teixeira. Refsnyder has been decent at first base as a defender and has had a promising bat in the minors. So in this scenario, the Yankees would be taking advantage of their bad year to play a player, in Refsnyder, who has never had a clear path to the majors.
If Refsnyder proves to be valuable at first base, it might mean the Yankees would be confident enough to go into 2017 with only Refsnyder and Greg Bird as first base depth.
Release Both Teixeira and Rodriguez
This move would be big because it would completely free up the designated hitter spot for 2017, since Carlos Beltran won’t be under contract anymore. For the first time in many years, the Yankees wouldn’t be starting the season with a logjam at this position. I think this would be a major benefit for the team in 2017 because it would allow Joe Girardi to use the position as a way to get players more rest. It also would allow for greater flexibility in free agency and trades because the Yankees could consider obtaining a player who plays any position.
Cutting Teixeira and Rodriguez would be an unceremonious way to end two incredible players’ time in pinstripes, but it probably wouldn’t make the Yankees much worse over the next season and a half. It still doesn’t seem very likely to happen due to the ownership’s insistence that they shouldn’t give up on any season. I’d be sad to see both players go, but neither player has produced even replacement level value this season, so it really might be the best move.
*All stats are from FanGraphs