Yankees Rob Refsnyder: The Next Super-Utility Player
The Yankees Rob Refsnyder realizes by now that he does not fit into their plans as a regular second baseman or regular anything for that matter. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a vital cog on the team’s 25-man roster in 2017 and beyond.
Nothing satisfies Yankees manager Joe Girardi more that being able to comb down the players sitting on his bench in the late innings of a game where he needs to use a bat as a pinch hitter. And simultaneously spot a guy who can enter the game to play that hitter’s vacated position reliably, and have hitting ability when his turn comes around in the batting order. He’s your everyday super utility player.
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He’s your Ben Zobrist, one of the most coveted free agents from last year, who was eventually signed to a $50+ million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Or if you want to look closer to home, he’s your Luis Soto, who played on four of the Yankees teams during “The Run” that went to the World Series, never making more than $800,000 per year, but worth every penny.
Or, you can go back a little further and recall Randy Velarde, who played second, third, and shortstop for nine seasons with the Yankees while appearing in 100 games or more only once. Of note though is that his career in the major leagues was solidified, and more importantly for him, lengthened by not only his ability to perform as a utility player but his willingness to do it.
Yankees Rob Refsnyder Has The Right Stuff
For the Yankees, the good news is that Rob Refsnyder is committed to his role as a utility player if that’s the way it has to be. In August of last season, he told NJ.com:
“Every role is pretty filled,” he said. “Maybe something will happen in the offseason but for me to make the team I’ve got to be a utility guy. So as long as I’m a Yankee, I’ve got to play a lot of different positions.”
Rob Refsnyder, as they say, has always been able to “rake.” It’s only his defensive abilities that held him back before Starlin Castro joined the team. But he’s working to improve, and it’s been noticed by the Yankees brass and coaching staff. He also jumped headlong into the team’s request to learn how to play first base, and that’s been noticed as well.
His Triple-A manager at Scranton, Al Pedrique, put it this way:
“For me, he needs daily at-bats,” Pedrique said. “I’ve seen this guy play before. I’ve had him for three years now and he’s a true hitter. We’re trying to figure things out defensively. The best position for him. We know he’s going to hit at the major league level. That’s what he’s shown.”
To be sure, Refsnyder can be a valuable trade chip in any deal that Brian Cashman decides to pull the trigger on a deal. But what’s significant is that it hasn’t happened. And that’s because the Yankees need that Sojo or Velarde on the team they are building.
And then, there is that all-important contingency factor – injuries. The abyss of all major league teams. But for the Yankees, here sits Refsnyder to walk right in as a replacement for either Castro or Gregorius if either one goes down.
Writing Refsnyder off as “the odd man out” is premature. And while you may not want to select him for your Fantasy League, you may want to watch him carefully as he continues his quest to be the Yankees super-utility player for the upcoming season.