Let’s take a few news stories from the past few days and dive deeper into them:
— Greg Bird elected free agency rather than an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bird turned out to be Nick Johnson 2.0 for the Yankees — a lefty-hitting first baseman with power and patience who showed initial promise but just could not stay off the injured list.
Johnson never completely solved the health issue. But he did stay fit enough in 2005-06 — his age-26/27 seasons — to play in 278 games with a .919 OPS and 8.6 Wins Above Replacement.
Bird will be entering his age-27 season in 2020. He has appeared in 140 games over the past four seasons, since his terrific 2015 debut, hitting just .194. Yet, as recently as the 2017 ALCS, the Astros’ scouting report was to work him as carefully as anyone in the lineup. The Yankees drew just 19 walks in those seven games and Bird had eight of them.
Perhaps he never will solve especially his foot problems and stay healthy. But at least a half-dozen teams — five in the AL — should be considering if there is a Nick Johnson upside year or two here at a pittance. It will be interesting to see if Bird can even…