On Thursday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies announced that they had signed Greg Bird to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Here’s what the signing could mean for the franchise in 2021.
Simply put, the Rockies are taking a chance on Bird, who has showed promise during a four-year career with the New York Yankees where he saw action in 186 games and totaled 700 plate appearances. In 2015, Bird put together a .261/.343/.529 slash line and OPS+ of 135 in 178 plate appearances. However, a shoulder labrum tear and subsequent surgery forced him to miss the 2016 season.
That was the first of a number of injuries (check out the list here) that has kept Bird off the field and from realizing his full potential. A change in scenery from the Yankees to the Texas Rangers didn’t even help as Bird was injured before the 2020 season began and never saw time with Texas, being designated for assignment shortly after the pandemic-shortened season began in late July.
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The Rockies, of course, are hoping that the 28-year-old Bird can not only stay healthy but find that swing that produced hits in 2015 but has struggled since (Bird’s current career batting average stands at .211 and his OPS+ has shrunk to 94. They are also hoping that Bird being back in Colorado (he graduated from Grandview High School in nearby Aurora) can re-ignite his success as well.
If this sounds familiar to Rockies fans, it should. There are similarities to the oft-injured David Dahl, who was designated for assignment by the Rockies after struggling mightily in 2020. The Rockies, however, have a need at first … and Bird comes with a cheaper price tag.
Could Bird make the Opening Day roster? It’s possible, but obviously it would take a strong showing in spring for that to happen. With Josh Fuentes penciled in as the Opening Day starter at first base heading into spring training, the left-handed-hitting Bird could potentially platoon there. He’s only seen game action at first base, but was seen back in the spring of 2017 getting in some work at third base.
What’s the bottom line? Colorado is taking a chance on a player who can play first base and has the potential to provide pop to a lineup that was recently called (subscription required) “baseball’s worst offense.” There is much more reward than potential risk here, but everything will depend on what Bird’s health and what he can show in spring training.