2015 Statistics: Triple-A - 60 games, .325/.390/.433, 3 HR. MLB - 37 games, .230/.247/.311 (47 wRC+), 1 HR.
2016 Contract Status: 40-man roster, not arbitration eligible
There were essentially no expectations for Jose Pirela coming into 2015. Kiley McDaniel, in his preseason prospect analysis, was absolutely right in what his talent is; he said, "[Pirela is a] 25-year-old [who] got a cup of coffee last year and may get more time this year, but he lacks impact tools; he’s an early-count contact hitter with below average power that can’t play shortstop and is just okay at second base, so most scouts have him as a 25th man type."
Considering the black hole that was second base this season, Pirela had a chance to seize the position if he played well enough (the same can be said for Rob Refsnyder), and he didn't. In his 37 major league games spread over five months, he hit just .230/.247/.311, with his only home run coming on June 7th against C.J. Wilson.
Other than that home run, he had just three extra-base hits. To boot, his exit velocity was dreadful, and there were only four weeks (of eleven) where his average exit velocity was better than league average.
It's not like his defense was that hot, either. By Defensive Runs Saved, he cost the Yankees three runs at second base. By UZR/150, he was at an abysmal -18.9, and by FRAA, he was 1.5 runs below average. Small sample size of course, but this is a case where the scouting reports, our eyes, and every defensive metric agrees. Pirela is not a plus defender, and he's certainly not good enough to make up for his poor offensive output so far.
The projections (Steamer/600 PA and Marcel) seem to think Pirela could be a competent 25th man, as their respective .709 and .716 OPS projections could make him worth a win-and-change over a full season. However, can he really hit a .700 OPS? I honestly doubt it. His bat speed is poor, his exit velocity has been below average, and he has very little power or plate discipline. He could get a bit of BABIP luck to bump his batting average, but I think what we've been seeing is what we'll get. It is still unclear what will happen at second base in 2016, but Jose Pirela certainly isn't the answer, even in a backup capacity.