A scant few hours ago, we learned that the man they (read: we) call #GREGBIRD would miss the entirety of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery. Some have already begun looking for silver linings, generally revolving around the likelihood of Bird spending the majority of 2016 in Triple-A due to the presence of Messrs Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran – but that is little more than scraping the bottom of the barrel for a silver lining. Shoulder surgeries tend to sap power (at least for a year or so), and Bird’s offensive game largely revolves around depositing the ball deep within the right field bleachers. And, of course, this ignores the full season of lost development for a 23-year old.
Oh, and it gets worse.
Due to Major League Baseball’s service time rules, Bird is all but guaranteed to garner a full year of service time in 2016. He is currently on the team’s active roster, which would put him on the Major League disabled list. While there may well be ways to game the system, it seems as though those loopholes have yet to be discovered. Michael Pineda picked up roughly a year and a half of service time with the Yankees before throwing a pitch for them in the Majors, and Zack Wheeler was credited with a full season in 2015 as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery. Both players were put on the disabled list closer to the beginning of the regular season, to be fair, but this is the rule – not the exception.
For the time being, Dustin Ackley‘s role on the team seems to have grown quite a bit, and Tyler Austin may suddenly be relevant again. It makes Juan Uribe and his ability to play second and third a bit more attractive, as well, should Ackley be forced into further duty at 1B and in LF. And, despite his butchery in the field (-14 DRS, -14.3 UZR at 1B), folks are already discussing Pedro Alvarez as a potential replacement for Bird. None are as exciting as Bird, who may well have the highest offensive ceiling of any Yankees “prospect” (yes, I know he doesn’t qualify at this juncture), though.
It may be premature to worry about Bird reaching free agency in 2021 instead of 2022, as he has yet to go under the knife. Nevertheless, this deals a serious blow to the team’s upper level depth in 2016, and puts a damper on the team’s plans in a post-Teixeira world. Continue reading Service Time: A Greg Bird Story