2015 Statistics: 108 G, .231/.284/.429, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, 264 PA
2016 Contract Status: Arbitration eligible
The Yankees were unusually quiet as the trade deadline approached this year, deciding to pass on the likes of David Price and Johnny Cueto. Instead, they made exactly one trade before the deadline ended: Dustin Ackley for Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez. Ackley had been in the Mariners' minor league system since 2010. He originally broke into the majors as a second baseman, but primarily played outfield since 2013. Ackley slashed .273/.348/.417 during his first year with the Mariners, but wasn't ever able to replicate those numbers. Brian Cashman had been interested in acquiring Ackley for awhile, and with the Yankees' shaky situation at second base, it finally happened.
Ackley had a Carlos Beltran-esque start to the season, hovering below the Mendoza line until June. He hit .270 in July, but joined the Yankees batting just .215/.270/.366 for the season. At the time, it didn't sound like Ackley would be much of an upgrade over Stephen Drew, if that was what the Yankees had in mind. Fans had to wait to find out, as Ackley played in exactly two games with the Yankees before he was put on the disabled list with a right lumbar strain. There was some concern that he would miss the rest of the season, but Ackley finally returned in September. For the last few weeks of the season, Ackley did spend most of his time playing second base, especially after Drew suffered a concussion. He ended up being one of the Yankees' best hitters in September, finishing the month batting .306/.352/.694 with four home runs, two triples and three doubles in 54 plate appearances.
Since Drew's contract was only through 2015, it appears that Ackley will be the Yankees' starting second baseman next season. The 27-year-old won't be a free agent until the 2017-18 off-season, so he could hold down the position for a few years. There's also the thought that the Yankees could use a platoon at second base, with Ackley sharing time with prospect Rob Refsnyder. That is how the Yankees used the two players during the last few weeks of the season. The Yankees were very reluctant to call Refsnyder up after his very brief stint with the team around the All-Star break, but he played well in September, and didn't have very many defensive miscues, which has been a concern in the past. Ackley has the added bonus of being able to play outfield and first base, and his defense seems adequate, though his UZR/150 was negative at second base for the first time this season. Even if Ackley isn't the starting second baseman next season, he should be a valuable utility player.