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2016 New York Yankees Preview: Infield



The New York Yankees added a key piece to the infield this winter as they acquired Chicago Cubs infielder Starlin Castro for right-handed pitcher Adam Warren and utility infielder Brendan Ryan.

Castro, 25, hit .265 in 2015 with 11 home runs and 69 RBI. However, Castro’s ability to play second base, shortstop and third base is exactly what the Yankees were looking for. Primarily the Yankees second baseman, Castro will also be used at shortstop and third base when Yankees manager Joe Girardi decides to give days off to shortstop Didi Gregorius as well as third baseman Chase Headley.

“When I look at Castro I look at a very talented ballplayer,” Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran said at a Topps launch last week. “Even though he has had good years in Chicago, I still feel that he has a lot more. For him coming to New York he has me and Alex (Rodriguez) as well as other veteran guys that are going to be able to help him.”

The Yankees also have rookie second baseman Rob Refsnyder who had 13 hits in 43 at bats in 2015. Refsnyder will see time at second when Castro needs a day off or moves to the left side of the infield.

Gregorius did a nice job in his first year in the Bronx hitting .265 with nine home runs and driving in 56 runs. Gregorius also played stellar defense as the slick fielding infielder committed just 13 errors in 155 games.

The 26-year old also has one of the strongest arms in baseball and will be a key asset once again to the Yankees lineup.

At first base, the Yankees will turn once again to Mark Teixeira. Teixeira hit .255 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI in 111 games before fracturing his leg in August. Teixeira was also named to the 2015 American League All-Star team, but has not played a full season since 2011 due to injuries.

The Yankees need Teixeira to stay healthy in 2016, especially with breakout rookie Greg Bird out for the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Right now the backup is Dustin Ackley, who the Yankees acquired before the July 31 trade deadline last season.

Behind the plate, the Yankees will be led by Brian McCann. who hit .232 with 26 home runs and 94 RBI in 2015. As of now, the backup to McCann looks to be top prospect Gary Sanchez, who hit .295 with seven home runs in the Arizona Fall League in 2015. Sanchez also hit 12 home runs in Double-A Trenton as well as six home runs in 35 games for Triple-A Scranton.

Sanchez will be battling for the backup spot with Austin Romine, but all eyes are on Sanchez in Spring Training.

“There is nothing not to like about him,” McCann said. “His tools are off the charts. He can go to right center, left center and he has a cannon. I am extremely excited to get to camp and work with him and be in the mix with him.”

As for McCann, when asked about playing some first base at the 36th Annual Thurman Munson Awards at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Tuesday. he said, “I don’t think they want me over there, I don’t move too good. I don’t think they want that.”

McCann also added that he does not see first base in his future at all’ “I haven’t really thought about it. I got a lot of good years left behind the plate so I haven’t put too much thought into it.”

With the addition of Castro, the Yankees infield looks ready to compete in 2016, and in a few days, Yankees fans will finally get the chance to see everyone in action.

New York Yankees projected starting Defensive Alignment:

Catcher: Brian McCann

First Base: Mark Teixeira

Second Base: Starlin Castro

Third Base: Chase Headley

Shortstop: Didi Gregorius

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