It's been about a month since I mapped out the projected Opening Day roster, and not much has changed since then despite the recent acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. He simply slots into the top third of the bullpen, bumping everybody beneath him down a spot and bumping Jacob Lindgren back to Triple-A to open the season, which probably wouldn't be a bad thing for him coming off elbow surgery and a lot of missed time. At this point the roster is basically set with the exception of the final bench spot. Looking at the makeup and positional depth, there is a need for a backup at third base. The talk right now is that Starlin Castro could be a possibility if he's willing to play the position and the Yankees are willing to use him there. But Castro hasn't played the hot corner since his early MiL days and only recently converted to playing second base regularly. Somehow I don't think the Yankees envisioned trading for him to turn him into a super utility infielder, but the point remains that there needs to be a reliable backup behind Chase Headley and filling that need would be the best use of that final bench spot.
There isn't much to write home about in the farm system now that Eric Jagielo has been traded. Dante Bichette Jr. and Rob Segedin will likely open the season in Triple-A but they've both been non-prospects for a few years now. Pete Kozma can't hit at all and has only played 14 games at third in his MLB career. Looking outside the organization and scanning through the MLBTR free agent tracker, there is one name that stands out to me in bright, bold letters. Juan Uribe. Juan Uribe would be the perfect player to add to fill that last bench role. Almost too perfect.
Look at all the boxes he checks. He can hit (.256/.303/.421 career tripleslash), he doesn't strike out too much (18.2% career K rate), he can take a walk every now and then, he can play multiple positions defensively and is a sneaky good defender at third and second base, and he comes with the always valued reputation as a great clubhouse guy. He's also going to turn 37 before the start of the regular season, which puts him right on the perceived edge of starting to decline offensively and could push him into that cheap, 1-year deal bargain bin that we know the Yankees are looking to shop in.
Uribe is the ideal type of bench addition to a team in "win now" mode, and make no mistake, the Yankees are very much in that mode with what they've done this offseason. They're standing pat on adding payroll, they continue to clutch every one of their top prospects tightly, but this isn't a club that's just trying to ride out contracts and waiting to start a rebuild. The Yankees made the postseason last year and if health cooperates they are going to be looking to return and improve on 2015's results. Uribe brings a lot to the table in terms of helping that goal and I have to think the market for him is a very team-friendly one. If he was that hot a commodity, somebody would have snapped him up by now.
There are other free agent options, cheaper ones like Alberto Callaspo and Conor Gillaspie. But they both stink and might not be any more productive than an in-house bench option like Kozma or Refsnyder. Even if his production declines this season, Uribe should be much better than both of them and not expensive by any means. The Yankees have gutted their organizational third base depth this offseason and left themselves without a good internal option to fill their last bench need. Uribe would be a perfect fit for that need and a perfect way to round out an improved Opening Day roster.