Continue for updates.
Yanks Announce Bird Injury
Monday, Feb. 1
Bird, 23, was expected to compete for playing time at first base with the Yankees' core veterans in 2016. The former fifth-round pick hit .261/.343/.529 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI last season after taking over for an injured Mark Teixeira in August. Playing solid enough defense, Bird produced 0.9 wins above replacement in 46 games, via FanGraphs—equivalent to what Teixeira put up in 2013 and 2014 combined.
Unfortunately, Bird remains stuck behind high-cost veterans organizationally. General manager Brian Cashman said in November that Bird was likely to begin the 2016 season in Triple-A Scranton if Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran were healthy.
"He's blocked by some pretty significant players right now," Cashman said, per Wallace Matthews of ESPN.com. "He's not the only one in the game in this situation, you know."
While Cashman is correct in that three famous players are ahead of Bird, it's unclear if any of them are actually better at this point. Teixeira was solid in 2015 but largely miserable over his two previous seasons. Beltran was also fine last season, but few projection systems have him as much more than replacement level. Rodriguez is, well, Rodriguez—an enigmatic figure if there ever has been one.
Bird may have been able to outplay them in spring training to the point it was impossible to keep him off the major league roster. Instead, a major injury will force continued inertia on New York's side.