The New York Yankees will be without Greg Bird for the upcoming season after the first baseman suffered a shoulder injury and that means the health of Mark Teixeira will be vitally important for the Yanks in 2016.
Bird played a key role in the second half of the season last year, as he stepped up and played first base after Teixeira went down with a leg injury. Bird now is done for the season and will undergo shoulder surgery after suffering a labrum tear, according to Joel Sherman at the New York Post. The Yankees initially planned to have Bird start the season at Triple-A and he likely would have been the first player called up if someone went down with an injury.
Now those plans are a bit in flux and it also puts some major importance on the health of Teixeira for this season. Bird put up solid numbers last year while coming up for Teixeira, hitting .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI for the team. Teixeira finished the season with 31 home runs and 79 RBI in 111 games and coming into this year, the Yankees are hoping that Teixeira can stay healthy for the duration of the season.
With Bird out, the team may have to look at some other options to help add some depth behind Teixeira and at DH. The team has Dustin Ackley as one option off the bench to play some first base, but he is primarily a second base option and an outfielder, so that could cause some issues. Ackley has played first base in his career and earlier in the offseason general manager Brian Cashman said that the team would consider using Ackley at times when they want to give Teixeira a rest.
The Yankees have not added any free agents to the roster this offseason, but the injury to Bird could open some things up. Chad Jennings at the LoHud Yankees Blog writes that players like Ike Davis or Pedro Alvarez could be options, as they are both available on the free agent market and likely would not cost much. Jennings also adds that Tyler Austin could be a potential option from the minor leagues.
Teixeira was having a nice bounce back season last year before getting injured and now the Yankees are hoping that he can pick up where he left off. Teixeira is coming into the final year of his contract and Bird has been pegged as an eventual successor for Teixeira at first base. Either way, the Yankees will have to find an option to replace Bird's role and his injury puts the pressure on Teixeira to stay healthy this season.