The Yankees have half of the infield figured out as Opening Day starters: Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird. That leaves the other two positions, second base and third base, to be won between the combinations of: Tyler Wade, Neil Walker, Brandon Drury, Ronald Torreyes, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. This is a terrific “problem” to have but one that still requires solving.
I think it’s safe to eliminate Torreyes and Gleyber at this point from the equation. Torreyes profiles as the perfect bench piece as opposed to a starter; Gleyber’s case, who will more than likely be sent back to AAA, on the other hand is a bit more layered – coming off injury, less than 100 at-bats in AAA, having a rough spring and service time / control witchcraft. All valid reasons, and there is no sense in rushing the Yankees crown jewel of prospects. Make no mistake, though, Gleyber will be the Yankees second baseman of the future – sooner rather than later.
At second base, the battle should be between Tyler Wade and Neil Walker. With Walker just getting onboard now, I think it’s clear the job is Wade’s to lose. The Yankees love Wade and I believe his skills better suit the Yankees as currently constructed. The lefty bat, speed, contact and athleticism traits would be a welcomed addition to the right-handed power. Walker, to me, is the perfect “adult in the room” utility infielder, especially at first base. Yes, he gets on base at a high clip, 20 homer pop and is proven as an everyday player. I just think between the Yankees wanting Wade to be successful and Walker a little behind in readiness, Wade should at least begin the year as the second base starter.
Third base, on the other hand, is really, really close with Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar. Andujar’s strong spring mixed with his hard contact rate, low strikeout tendency and power skills should give him the inside track to earn the job on Opening Day. What’s more is that he hasn’t been a liability at the position defensively, which should be a deciding factor in getting the nod. However, should Andujar struggle at first, I don’t think it’d be shocking to see him at AAA shortly after. Drury, who was highly coveted by General Manager / Wizard Brian Cashman, has also had a solid spring and deserves playing time, too. With experience at second base, third base and corner infield, Drury is the perfect reliable safety net should Andujar not be ready.
Before the Walker signing, I thought the best way to handicap the battles were like this: Andujar at third and Wade and Drury platoon at second. The Yanks simply have too many options and not enough spots, and that’s more than okay!