The Yankees are letting teams know that they’re open to hearing offers for Rob Refsnyder, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Once seen as a potential candidate to become the Yankees’ second baseman of the future, the acquisition of Starlin Castro last offseason recast Refsnyder as something of a utility man, and he now faces a crunch to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.
Refsnyder, who turns 26 later this month, was a fifth round pick for the Yankees in the 2012 draft, and he has a strong .293/.379/.429 slash line over 2080 career plate appearances in the minors. Originally drafted as a right fielder, Refsnyder was shifted to second base with middling results. The 2016 Baseball America Prospect Handbook (which ranked Refsnyder as the eighth-best prospect in New York’s system) said that he was “unlikely to be an average defender, but has worked enough to make playable at the position,” with some scouts using Daniel Murphy as a comparable.
In 2016, Refsnyder started to see action all over the diamond, playing second, third and right field in both the majors and minors while also getting action with the Yankees as a left fielder and first baseman. Refsnyder actually ended up making 21 starts at first last season as the Yankees dealt with several injury problems at the position. Over 222 career PA in the majors, Refsnyder has hit .262/.332/.354 with two home runs.
The Yankees have such veterans as Castro, Chase Headley and Brett Gardner blocking Refsnyder at three positions, while a more promising youngster is in Refsnyder’s way in right field (Aaron Judge). As for first base, Greg Bird and Chris Carter will handle the position while Tyler Austin could be a factor in both right and at first once he returns from the DL. Bench-wise, Aaron Hicks and Ronald Torreyes look like the favorites to claim the two remaining reserve spots on the 25-man.
With these options all in play, it maybe isn’t surprising that New York is at least exploring what it can obtain for Refsnyder on the trade market. Refsnyder should carry some trade value given his promising bat, defensive versatility and controllable contract through the 2022 season. Of course, being open to hearing offers for a player is technically different than outright shopping someone, so GM Brian Cashman could simply be gauging Refsnyder’s market rather than actively looking to move him.
This isn’t the first time Refsnyder has been involved in trade buzz — back in the summer of 2015, the Yankees refused a deal that would’ve sent Refsnyder and Adam Warren to the A’s for Ben Zobrist. (That rejection shaped the postseason, as Zobrist was instead dealt to the Royals and played a big role in their World Series title.) Ironically, the Yankees ended up trading Warren to the Cubs for Castro that winter, which blocked Refsnyder’s clearest path to a regular spot in the Bronx.