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Examining the Yankees' other options at second base

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While Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder will be the main competitors for the second base spot at Spring Training, the Yankees have also recently signed Cole Figueroa and Nick Noonan to compete for a spot in the infield.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees appear to be heading to spring training with Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela set to duke it out for the starting spot at second base.  They seem to have no interest in Stephen Drew or Asdrubal Cabrera, and, of course, already traded away Martin Prado to Miami.  However, they have signed a couple other infielders to minor league deals that should take part in this infield competition: Cole Figueroa and Nick Noonan.

Figueroa is a 27-year-old second baseman who has spent time in both the Padres and the Rays systems.  He has seen quite a bit of action in Triple-A over the past three seasons, and he finally broke through in 2014 and found his way to The Show.  However, in 23 games for Tampa Bay, he wasn't particularly impressive, hitting just .233/.286/.326 with a 74 wRC+ in 49 plate appearances.  In Triple-A last season, Figueroa did flash the best bat of his career to that point, hitting .282/.371/.389 for a 114 wRC+.  He's never been a big power hitter, but he's managed to be a slightly above average bat at a middle infield position for most of his minor league career.

The most notable aspect of Figueroa's offensive game is his plate discipline.  Simply put, Figueroa draws a lot of walks and doesn't strike out much.  He's managed more walks than strikeouts in each season dating back to 2010.  While he probably won't set MLB on fire with his bat, he might give Pirela and Refsnyder a run for their money in spring training, and could turn into a useful bench cog for the Yankees.

The Yankees also signed former Giant Nick Noonan to a minor league deal this offseason.  Noonan has been pretty consistently terrible at the plate over his minor league career, hitting just .237/.282/.302 with a 51 wRC+ but he does bring some good glove work to the middle of the field.  Still, the Yankees already have a glove-first backup in Brendan Ryan, so there's little upside to Noonan.  He seems like nothing more than Triple-A depth for now.

If either of these players exit spring training as the starting second baseman, that will be a major red flag for both Pirela and Refsnyder.  Neither Figueroa nor Noonan profile to be average major leaguers, and while the Yankees may be signaling that these two will be involved in the second base competition this spring, that's probably more for competition's sake than for anyone actually hoping these two become key pieces on the major league squad.  Everything is shaping up for Refsnyder or Pirela, or perhaps both, to get a real shot in 2015, and with a little luck, maybe one will become the dependable Yankee second baseman of the future.