As the Yankees get ready to compete down in Tampa, GM Brian Cashman is excited to see how the infield competition shakes out.
Cashman joins the Yankees fan base in being curious about how New York's top prospects will pan out as they fight for Opening Day roster spots. He won't rule out making more moves in free agency to bring in a veteran infielder, but for now, the spotlight will stay on the group the Yankees have now.
"We've got a competition lined up to see where it takes us," Cashman told NY Daily News' Christian Red. "Obviously, if anything changes between now and Opening Day, and makes enough sense, we'll evaluate it."
The obvious favorite to dress in pinstripes at the end of March is Gleyber Torres, who returns from Tommy John Surgery on his non-throwing shoulder following an awkward slide last June. Torres said that he felt good enough to play winter ball in Venezuela, but the Yankees were paricularly cautious with their top prospects, and rightfully so.
"(Torres) wanted to play a winter ball. We said, 'No.' He was healthy enough to do so," Cashman noted. "He's healthy right now. Could he blow a tire? Yeah, but that's true of anybody else. Could he pull a groin, or hammy or calf? Yeah, but that's going to be tru of everyone in competition."
With Torres projected to man second base, Miguel Andujar looks to be the favorite to play third at the start of the season. The 22-year-old played in five games with the big league club after getting called up in June last year. He played three of those games at third.
It won't be easy for Torres and Andujar to waltz into the Opening Day lineup, though. Ronald Torreyes, who filled in beautifully when the Yankees infield needed a rest or was injured, will return and vie for a starting role instead of his utility one last season. Also, veteran Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal, and was invited to Yankees camp to see if he has what it takes to make the 25-man roster. Jace Peterson also joins Espinosa as a big leaguer looking to stay in the MLB this season.
So, this spring is bound to be fun to watch in the infield. But don't doubt that Cashman won't make another move to solidify his roster that has World Series aspirations this season. He is always looking to improve no matter what experts may already say about a lineup that boasts Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Giancarlo Stanton.
"I think a good team thinks, 'You're never good enough.' We added a lot of players over the course of a season last year, (Tommy) Kahnle being one, David (Robertson), (Todd) Frazier, Sonny Gray, Jaime Garcia. You're always looking for ways to improve," Cashman said. "On paper going in you feel good about things. It's a whole new year and we haven't even had day one of workouts. We certainly haven't played any exhibition games. We haven't seen if anybody's stuff is different, (velocity) is reduced. You do six weeks in Florida for a reason, to assess if people are in the same position, if they're better or worse. Then you adjust accordingly."
Though many players are already down at their respective camps, the Yankees will begin their first team workout on Feb. 19.