CLEVELAND -- The player Brian Cashman in the spring called "by far" the best pure hitter in the Yankees' system is about to get his chance to help the big-league club's suddenly struggling offense.
Left-handed hitting first baseman Greg Bird, on Cashman's short list of untouchable prospects at the trade deadline, was called up and is scheduled to join the Yankees in time for Thursday night's game against the Indians, who will start righthander Trevor Bauer.
The YES Network first reported the transaction Thursday morning.
The 6-3, 220-pound Bird had a .301/.353/.500 slash line with six homers and 23 RBI in 34 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being promoted from Double-A Trenton, where he started the season. The 22-year-old, who was with the Yankees for a brief time in spring training, hit .366 with two homers and 10 RBI his previous 10 games before the call-up.
"He's swinging the bat really well right now," one minor league scout said Thursday.
The Yankees, who entered the day on a five-game losing streak and one-half game behind the Blue Jays, who have won 10 straight, have seen their offense collapse in the last week.
After scoring 90 runs over a 10-game stretch, the Yankees, who had four hits in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Indians, have totaled nine runs in seven games since.
The Bombers, who had not been out of first place in the AL East since July 1, were eight games ahead of the Blue Jays, against whom they start a three-game series Friday night in Toronto, on July 28. That translates into eight and a half games lost in the standings in 15 days.
Toronto, of course, was among the busiest teams at the trade deadline, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Mark Lowe and Ben Revere, and have since taken off.
The Yankees had an interest in big-ticket starting pitchers like Price, Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels, but Cashman, under the direction of managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, refused to part with any of the club's three top prospects -- righthander Luis Severino, who has looked good in two starts since being called up, outfielder Aaron Judge and Bird.
There was some grumbling among organizational insiders just after the trade deadline about the Yankees standing pat -- concern, primarily, about not having enough pitching reinforcements and the possibility of standout veterans like Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez tiring down the stretch -- but that was somewhat muted because the team was playing well.
Another opposing team scout summarized things this way late Thursday morning.
"The Jays addressed their issues," the scout said. "The Yankees did not."