This spring, over 42 at-bats, Marcus Thames, the right-handed, power-hitting outfielder the Yankees signed to a minor-league deal for a base salary of $900k, is hitting a mere .143/.200/.286, while leading the club with 17 strikeouts. Now, spring statistics are generally hollow numbers, however, in some instances, particularly when a player is signed to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training, the numbers can be poor enough to cause concern. Thames might actually be one of those cases. And, though a roster spot has always seemed within his reach despite the numbers – the Yankees seem to believe that they need a right-handed bench option, which Thames is – yesterday, GM Brian Cashman indicated that the Yankees could pursue another player if one becomes available.
“Right now, he’s the last man standing,” stated Cashman in relation to Thames after the 33-year old went 1-for-4 with a home run against the Orioles in a 11-7 Yankee victory. “But I still need him to compete for the job because I don’t know who might become available. I know this is where he wants to be.” Note Cashman’s comment about the potential availability of other players. Given that the season is starting shortly, this is mainly just motivational language, put forth to push Thames as he will likely face the left-handed Marc Rzepczynski of Toronto tonight. Yet, Cashman’s comment is interesting in that it confirms the Yankee roster is always open to interpretation. If another player “becomes available” that can possibly do a better job than Thames, the Yankees might be willing to give that person a look. Thames may not be doing much this spring and will probably make the team regardless of that fact, but, once spring training is in the rearview and the regular season is underway, he will have to fight to keep his spot as Cashman is certainly willing to adjust accordingly. The Yankees want a right-handed bench bat and if Thames won’t do the job, someone else will.
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