With Derek Norris in the fold, the Rays are searching for additional right-handed depth and the team is interested in Yankees infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III.
Refsnyder, 26, is stuck in limbo with the Yankees as the team has no clear role for the Seoul, South Korea, native. In parts of the last two seasons, Refsnyder has posted a cumulative .262/.332/.354 slash line with 17 runs batted in (RBIs) through 74 games. He hasn’t helped his case this spring, however, as he has managed just a .195/.313/.654 line in 41 at-bats.
Through 2,080 plate appearances in the minors, Refsnyder owns a .293/.379/.429 slash line. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ seventh-best prospect after the 2014 season.
Drafted as an outfielder out of the University of Arizona in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft (187th overall), the Yankees moved Refsnyder to second base. However, with Starlin Castro cemented at the keystone last season — and a reluctance to promote Refsnyder until mid-July in the year before — Refsnyder has not seen significant time at second base in the majors.
The Yankees have shown a willingness to discuss Refsnyder in the past; Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News two offseasons ago that he rejected a trade to acquire former Ray Ben Zobrist for Refsnyder and Adam Warren.
Most of Refsnyder’s playing time in 2016 came as a first baseman and outfielder. FanGraphs rated Refsnyder’s defense positively at both first base and the outfield in limited time.
Over the weekend, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Rays are looking for an additional right-handed bat, and Refsnyder was listed as a possible target along with Bryce Brentz, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson, and former Rays Justin Ruggiano and Melvin Upton.
Matt Duffy’s return from a heel injury has encountered setbacks, increasing Tampa Bay’s interest in a right-handed bat. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reported last week that the Yankees and Rays have interest in shortstop Nick Ahmed; with Didi Gregorious likely sidelined for all of April and Duffy’s status uncertain, the defensive-minded Ahmed makes sense for both sides.
However, Topkin noted that the Rays prefer to acquire an outfielder with options who can backup defensive wizard Kevin Kiermaier in center field. Refsnyder does have options but has never played center field at the professional level.
With Opening Day this Sunday, the Rays have a lot of roster decisions to make in the coming days.