While it seems to be a foregone conclusion that sends either Greg Bird or Luke Voit to the minors, the Yankees should be able to do something better…
On the surface, Yankees manager, Aaron Boone might be blessing himself for the good fortune of having two quality players competing for one position at Spring Training. And Brian Cashman might be stroking his ego again by a trade he made to steal one of them – but the real genius between the two should be to find a place for both Luke Voit and Greg Bird on the team when the Yankees move North to begin the 2019 season.
This will be an easier said than done task for the Yankees brain trust, but the production that stands to be reaped outweighs the maneuverings Boone will need to make with his day-to-day lineup. Generally, first basemen are not “transferable” to other positions. It’s usually the other way around where a player from another position is moved to first base to give the regular there a day off, giving, for instance, Gary Sanchez a break from his regular catching duties while still preserving his bat in the Yankees lineup.
It’s no coincidence that both Bird and Voit are making any decision by the Yankees a difficult one for the team, and ultimately perhaps, the organization. Each player is wired with its particular brand of motivation, and the Yankees should have known and not be surprised when they see Bird and Voit trading three-run home runs in just the first week of Spring Training.
Bird, the Yankees perennial player on rehab, is healthy and ready to finally prove to himself and the Yankees that he is, as Cashman once described him, the best pure hitter in the Yankees organization. Luke Voit has been one of those bounce-around, never gets a chance type of players who stepped into a quagmire last season when the Yankees desperately needed a “lift,” only to make lemonade from the opportunity.
So, assuming you agree that having Bird and Voit on the squad is desirable, and further considering each will earn it, what are some options the Yankees could employ to put a round screw in a square hole, tweaking their 25-man roster to accommodate the oddity?
Bird And Voit – It Could Be Done This Way
A suggestion is to look to the pitching staff as a means to create an “extra” spot on the roster. For the first month of the season, the Yankees can get by with four starters due to the inordinate number of scheduled days off, and the usual amounts of postponements due to inclement weather.
This would permit the Yankees, as an example only, to postpone CC Sabathia‘s first start of the season by legally manipulating (as all teams do) the DL List, removing him from the active roster. As a bonus, this will give Sabathia, who is in his final season before retirement, and opportunity to empty the tank in August and September, rather than April and May.
Similarly, the Yankees bullpen also affords the opportunity for creative juggling that will permit the potent bats of Bird and Voit to get productive at-bats. While the back-end of the bullpen with Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, and Chad Green is set and needn’t be touched, the rest of the bullpen is composed of interchangeable pitchers who can slide back and forth between Triple-A Scranton and Yankee Stadium – as needed.
A lesser but still possible accommodation is to play Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield more than the current strategy as a DH employs. This would open up a spot as the DH in the lineup, but again, this requires some thought and imagination on the part of Aaron Boone.
The proverbial bottom line says the Yankees have an opportunity to add to their already potent lineup by retaining both Bird and Voit as the team moves North. Creative thinking is required to make it happen.
Despite mouthing all the right words now, neither player is going to be a happy camper in the Yankees organization once the boom is lowered on one of them. Why go there if there might be another way…