Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the team is looking for an external upgrade at first base.
"Tis the season for upgrade efforts," Cashman texted Brendan Kuty of NJ.com on Thursday awhen asked if he was looking to trade for a first base upgrade.
The Yankees cut Chris Carter again earlier this week and replaced him with 26-year-old Ji-Man Choi, who homered in his debut on Wednesday afternoon.
Carter, who the Yankees signed during the offseason, hit .201 with a .284 OBP and .370 SLG with eight HR and 26 RBI in 62 games this season.
Greg Bird, who was expected to be the starter at first base this season, has missed the majority of the season due to a bone bruise in his ankle. He is considering whether to undergo exploratory surgery to determine while he's still feeling pain due to the bone bruise.
Tyler Austin missed the beginning of the season due to a fractured ankle. After returning, he suggered a right hamstring injury and has been out since June 29.
The Yankees, who have lost 16 of their last 22 games, trail the Red Sox by 4.0 games for first place in the A.L. East, but lead the first Wild Card by 0.5 games over the Royals. The Twins and Rays, directly behind the Royals in the Wild Card standings, trail the Yankees by 1.5 games.
So, Ji-Man is not the man.
Seriously, no one expected that when they brought Choi up to replace Carter. However, it's also hard to believe Cashman had not been actively pursuing an upgrade at first base since the first time they designated Carter for assignment.
In my opinion, there are catches to trading for a first baseman. One is what exactly they expect if anything out of Bird, not only in 2017, but beyond. If the club is committed to Bird in 2018, then a rental target, assuming a low prospect cost, makes the most sense.
However, if Bird's physical issues are springing a red flag, then a controllable player would make more sense. A player such as Jose Abreu, Brandon Belt, or Justin Bour would be nice, but each will come with prospect and payroll commitments that sticking with Bird would not require.
Finally, the other factor is how real the Yankees believe their chances to compete for the A.L. East title are at the moment, and will be as the month comes to a close. There is little reason for a rental if the Yanks are not confident in a run. A controllable player would still make some sense, but only if Bird is no longer the word in Yankeeland.