Brian Cashman: Voit Is Favorite For First Base Job, But We Still Believe In Bird

LISTEN: 'Carlin, Maggie And Bart' Speak With Yankees GM

Carlin, Maggie & Bart
March 15, 2019 - 2:23 pm
Brian Cashman

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The most intriguing positional battle at Yankees spring training has been at first base.

Luke Voit finished the season as New York’s first baseman after excelling in Triple-A following his midseason acquisition from the St. Louis Cardinals. Greg Bird struggled last year, but added a bit of muscle this offseason and is determined to compete for the job that was once his.

Still, there is a clear favorite in the race for the position. General manager Brian Cashman joined "Carlin, Maggie and Bart" in Florida on Friday to talk about Yankees spring training. He noted that Voit had the advantage in that push to be the team’s every day first baseman, but that no one has given up on Bird.

"It's safe to state publicly that he's (Voit) the favorite going in," said Cashman. "But it's a race. And it doesn't mean that somebody else with Bird's abilities can't come past and win it. We've been betting on Bird ... I could've traded Bird this winter. I could've cut ties if we thought that this was something where you're hitting your head against the wall and it's not going to work, but we still think the ceiling is there now. Bird showed up this spring with 25 pounds of muscle on ... he was considered our best hitting prospect throughout the system ... we can't forget that."

Voit was a revelation when he began playing for the Bronx Bombers in August. In 39 games with the team he batted .333 and managed 14 home runs and 33 RBIs. The 28-year-old has followed that up with a decent spring that has only solidified his claim to first base.

Bird, as Cashman noted, was once of the Yankees’ best hitting prospects. He’s still only 26, but injuries have derailed his career to this point. He missed the entire 2016 season and hasn’t looked like the same player since. He only appeared in 82 games last year despite being relatively healthy after returning from ankle surgery in May.

MORE: Murti Notes: Yankees Should Feel Good About How 1B Battle Has Gone

Cashman also touched on all the drama surrounding Sonny Gray and his eventual departure from the team via a trade to the Cincinnati Reds. 

"I was very public about it because Sonny and I had already met," said Cashman. "We tried everything ... the only thing I can equate it right now to is if I was the general manager of a football team and I acquire a skilled, talented player, but it's the wrong scheme. So you sign a free agent that doesn't fit the scheme, you give him a lot of money, all of a sudden the fans are going nuts because it's not working out ... turned out it wasn't the right fit. We take responsibility for that."

Listen above to CMB's full interview with Brian Cashman.

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