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How the Yankees can fit Greg Bird on the 2016 roster

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

No one expected Greg Bird to make an impact in 2015, but the Yankees needed him sooner than they expected and he delivered. It even worked out perfectly that when Mark Teixeira went down with a broken leg, Bird was there to take his place. It would feel like a crime to put him back down in Triple-A, but Tex is expected to be healthy to start the year and Alex Rodriguez isn't going anywhere. As Brian Cashman said, there might not be room for him next year, but the Yankees can make room.

First things first, Greg Bird won't be playing any other position other than first base. He was originally a catcher before transitioning to first base and he doesn't seem to be the most limber guy. He's never played a single inning in the outfield or at third base or at second base. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to have him learn a whole new position for only one season, especially when there really isn't an opening anywhere else. Teixeira will be a free agent at the end of the year and Greg Bird's best bet is to stick to first base and designated hitter.

While they have Tex for another year, they will still need a backup first baseman to fill the role Garrett Jones was supposed to play last year. Instead of relying on the likes of Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann, who have all played a handful of games at the position, the Yankees need to stay with a legitimate backup fielder. While Jones didn't get much playing time, Bird can still get a good amount of at-bats by sharing time with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod was great last year. After a year-long suspension and a return at the age of 39, no one knew what he would be able to offer the team. A .250/.356/.486 batting line with 33 home runs was way beyond what anyone thought he was capable of at this point. However, it could have been much better if they had some way to keep his playing time in check. Rodriguez appeared in 151 games and had 620 plate appearances–his highest totals since 2007 when he was still only 31. It's no wonder he hit .282/.386/.544 through July and then tapered off in the last two months of the season to hit .191/.300/.377. Simply put, he cannot be allowed to play that much in 2016. He's 40 now and there's no telling if he will be able to remain as healthy as he did in 2015.

Mark Teixeira also had a great season last year, but he's going to be 36 and has dealt with injuries over the last few years (the broken leg doesn't count). While concerns over the wrist might be settled, asking him to play 150-ish games, mostly in the field, sounds like a lot. Certainly more than they need to risk when they have a viable first baseman ready to step in. No one thinks Tex needs fewer at-bats in 2016, but he could use regular half days if they have the resources to make it happen.

What I propose the Yankees should do is for them to create a system between Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Bird, where Bird can sub in for them a few times a week in order to get him adequate at-bats and give them some much-needed time off. I propose that A-Rod should DH five times a week and get two days off, which over a full season would put him in 115 games and give him 460 plate appearances–if he gets four PAs/game. Teixeira should get at least one day, or half-day, off a week, allowing him to eclipse 138 games and 552 plate appearances. Playing three games a week, this would give Greg Bird around 276 plate appearances. He would get somewhat regular playing time and make it worthwhile to keep on the major league roster. On top of this, Bird can also be used as a pinch hitter and late-game replacement.

Keep in mind that it's a long season and there's a good chance that someone ends up missing time with an injury, so there's definitely a way to keep him from wasting away in Scranton. There might not be clear space for him now, but the Yankees can make room for him while simultaneously keeping some of their sluggers fresher. Greg Bird will help the 2016 team in the long run, not just because of his bat and glove, but because they can trust him. Maybe then the offense won't have another second-half fade like it did this past year.