This was supposed to be Greg Bird’s year. He entered spring training healthy, finally, and battled with Luke Voit for the starting first base job. The Yankees claimed that the loser would be headed to Triple-A Scranton, and we spent time trying to fit them both in the same lineup. They always say that you can never have too many players, and that these things work themselves out in the end. Injuries led to both starting the season in the big leagues, and only one of the first basemen survived the first two weeks of the season without incident. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Bird.
2019 Statistics: 10 games, 41 plate appearances, .171/.293/.257, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 6 runs, 1 extra-base hit, -0.1 fWAR, 54 wRC+
2020 Contract Status: Arbitration eligible
To say that injuries have plagued Bird’s Yankees career would be an understatement. He missed the entire 2016 season with a torn labrum, and ankle injuries limited his playing time in both 2017 and 2018. When Yankees started dropping like flies at the start of 2019, it seemed amazing that he wasn’t one of them, then inevitable when he finally was. Bird suffered a plantar fascia tear in his left foot in mid-April. At the time, Aaron Boone said it would be “at least a month” until he returned. That ended up being entirely too optimistic as he was never seen again.
At this point, you have to wonder where Bird fits in with the Yankees moving forward. In addition to Luke Voit, Mike Ford made the most of his time in the majors, DJ LeMahieu played a serviceable backup, and Edwin Encarnacion has a 2020 club option. The Bombers aren’t exactly hurting for first basemen, and Bird would likely be at (or near) the bottom of the pecking order in this group. They could always stash him in Triple-A, but there is an argument to be made that he is wasting a spot on the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much trade value at the moment either. Since he made $1.2 million in 2019, it’s possible that he will be non-tendered.
The good news is that Bird is evidently healthy now, as he started playing for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League. They’re only four games into the season, but he’s 2-for-17 with four walks and five strikeouts so far. Hopefully this gives him a chance to get back into the swing of things and ready for spring training. It’s difficult to imagine him competing for the first base spot again, but that could change over the next four months. It would be nice to see him finally put together a full season, even if it takes place in Scranton.