Center field was not a Yankees challenge to start this season. Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman had been within the majors. Greg Allen and Ryan LaMarre had been stashed within the minors. Theoretically, this could have supplied Estevan Florial time to make up for misplaced reps with no minor league season final yr.
But the season is and not using a script. Tauchman was traded. Allen and LaMarre had been injured, and neither is near a return. Hicks harm his wrist, probably sidelining him for the season. Florial confirmed he’s an amalgamation of attention-grabbing instruments, however not but main league prepared.
That leaves Gardner — 38 in August — as not simply the final center fielder standing however the oldest common center fielder within the majors by greater than 2 ¹/₂ years (Lorenzo Cain). Even within the hard-playing Gardner’s prime, the Yanks frightened about overplaying him into ineffectiveness. So they can’t play him each day now. Which creates three decisions: 1. Use Tyler Wade as a backup. 2. Acquire a stopgap. 3. Try to make a substantive commerce now. Let’s look at these options:
Wade or Clint Frazier are the backup center-field options. Wade, a transformed infielder, has really proven higher instincts and route working. He additionally has introduced wanted power and athleticism when deployed. But the Yankees, surprisingly, have been extra a run-prevention than run-scoring membership. Do they actually need to belief center field even as soon as per week to, say, Wade when one among their extra ground-ball-oriented pitchers equivalent to Domingo German or Corey Kluber begins?
The lowest affect for the Yankees can be to seek out their Cameron Maybin, albeit with higher center-field means. But the Mets felt they had been being held up typically in all of their asks for even middling sorts as they tried to deal with an injury-devastated outfield. As one AL government mentioned, “There are a lot of ambulance chasers in the business.” So even a small add might be difficult.
Still, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported final week that the Yankees had been discussing Delino DeShields Jr., who was hitting .383 in 12 video games at Triple-A, with the Rangers. He is smart as a righty complement to Gardner. Texas may really feel stress to behave as a result of on June 1, DeShields can request being placed on the key league roster or launched if not performed inside 24 hours.
Here is one other idea that I’m making up: With Mike Trout injured, Juan Lagares is beginning in center for the Angels. But bullpen-desperate Los Angeles may name up a high prospect equivalent to Jo Adell or Brandon Marsh and use Lagares to get somebody from the Yanks’ minor league depth equivalent to Nelson Cortes Jr., Nick Goody or Adam Warren.
The Yanks can stopgap with Gardner and somebody like, say, DeShields and hope they’ve one other Gio Urshela/Luke Voit shock emergence. But what’s extra doubtless, that or shedding Gardner for a interval — after which what do the Yanks do in center? For now, the Yanks need a bat and a center fielder. Could they leap the market and get each in a single deal?
There are hurdles. Eight weeks in the past, the Yanks projected as offensively robust with rotation issues. Eight weeks from now when the precise July commerce deadline arrives what’s going to the Yanks want? Starters equivalent to German, Kluber and Jameson Taillon, who’ve hardly pitched the previous two years, will doubtless have pushed past 100 innings. Do the Yanks danger having given up prospect collateral for Taillon, doing equally for a center field now and being much less effectively positioned if one other challenge arises come July?
A rival government mentioned the Yankees have excelled within the final decade “at not hitting the panic button. They have their math that shows they will come out of ugly stretches like they did early this season and they stick to the math.”
They additionally wouldn’t be alone in pursuing outfielders now. For instance, the White Sox are lacking Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, with neither returning quickly.
And it’s May. The Rays and Brewers executed a meaty commerce final week of shortstop Willy Adames to Milwaukee for two relievers. But these groups lined up effectively to commerce from energy to deal with shortcomings. Can the Yanks persuade a non-contender to blink two months earlier than the deadline and never demand a extreme overpay?
The preferrred Yankee candidate would be Ketel Marte, a change hitter with positional flexibility on a team-friendly contract. But would Arizona have a look at the Dodgers, Padres and Giants not simply now however for the following few years and use Marte to attempt to deepen their future prospect base, or do they see Marte as a part of their subsequent robust contender? The Pirates, with Bryan Reynolds, must ask the identical query. Miami’s Starling Marte is the type of walk-year veteran who will get traded, however he’s harm and the Marlins have but to completely outline whether or not they’re contenders.
The Yanks entrance workplace has lengthy been fascinated with what Joey Gallo’s lefty energy may seem like in The Bronx. He has been athletic sufficient to play center. But, to me, he exemplifies the Yankees’ October points — high-end pitching goes to use a participant at the moment putting out 34 p.c of the time.
“That is a First World problem if he is punching out in October,” the AL government mentioned.
Yep, it’s a must to get there first, which for the Yanks means addressing a difficulty that proper now could be entrance and center.