Few prospects have thrilled Yankees fans in recent years quite like first baseman Greg Bird. He stormed through the minor leagues after a breakout 2013, making it all the way to the big leagues by the end of 2015, giving Yankee Stadium crowds a possible glimpse at the future beyond Mark Teixeira by launching a number of dingers into the short porch.
Even though Bird seemed slated to begin next season in Triple-A Scranton due to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez's presence on the roster, it seemed inevitable that he would receive plenty of playing time. After all, both Teixeira and A-Rod are veterans with long injury histories and unlikely to both stay healthy all year long.
Little did fans suspect that the first man to fall would be by far the youngest of the three sluggers. As sad as it is to say, Greg Bird will not play a single game for the Yankees in 2016:
1B Greg Bird will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a right shoulder labrum tear and will miss the 2016 season.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) February 1, 2016
As noted by Joel Sherman, Bird missed time in May of last year with a shoulder injury, and he felt pain again there during the off-season. The Yankees' worst fears were confirmed when it was recently revealed that he had a labrum tear. So he will miss the entire 2016 season.
This injury is a huge blow to both prospect fans and to the Yankees' depth. Without Bird there as a safety net for Teixeira in particular, the options are not pleasant if Teixeira misses time again. Dustin Ackley and Chase Headley can play some first base to back him up, but the Yankees could turn to the free agent market. There aren't many attractive options who would likely be interested in playing behind Teixeira, so they will likely just have to deal with the loss of depth internally.
Shoulders are serious business too, so the Yankees and their fans will have to cross their fingers that Bird makes a safe recovery and remains part of their future in 2017. After all, All-Stars like Brian McCann and Matt Kemp have recovered from similar injuries to remain strong hitters. The rehab will obviously not be easy though.
It seemed like it was an easy call for the team to let Teixeira go after his contract expires, but with another year like 2015, would they really say goodbye to gamble on a young player who just had major surgery? Even if they do let Teixeira walk, it would not be a shocker to see scouring the free agent market anyway, though it is not very impressive.
Get well soon, Birdman. We'll miss your dingers and eyebrows. :(