3 centerfield solutions for the Yankees this off-season

mlb: kansas city royals at toronto blue jays, kevin kiermaier, yankees
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With Harrison Bader being waived in September and Jasson Dominguez suffering a long-term elbow injury in the same month, the New York Yankees, as of Thursday, don’t know who will play center field for them in 2024.

Fans are getting optimistic about the team’s chances to land star center fielder Cody Bellinger, who had a .881 OPS with 26 home runs and 97 RBI this past season with the Cubs, via free agency. He is expected to have plenty of suitors and command a hefty contract, so signing him will be difficult.

In case they don’t do it, here are three solutions for the Yankees center field until Dominguez is ready to play around summertime:

3 Centerfield Solutions for the Yankees

1.Kevin Kiermaier

The veteran center fielder and former Gold Glover would be a good fit with the Yankees. He isn’t expected to be overly expensive; he is a master of his craft, defensively speaking, and he offers some offensive upside, too. He is a career 98 wRC+ hitter and checked in at 104 last year.

The combination of an average hit tool with superb defensive skills in one of the most important positions makes Kiermaier, who expressed recently that he would be open to playing with the Yankees, a plausible option for the Bronx Bombers.

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2. Prospects

If the Yankees decide to allocate most of their resources to other positions (third base is a need, as is the rotation and a hitter, in general), they could theoretically go with internal options to man center field in 2024.

Although he is better suited for a corner, Everson Pereira can play center field and is an option even though the offensive performance in MLB just wasn’t there last year (23 wRC+ in 27 games). He was excellent in Double-A and Triple-A, though, and may require some patience before he takes off.

Estevan Florial, a minor league free agent, could find his way to the Yankees and help fill the position. His glove is good, and he has power and speed. Strikeouts are a problem, though.

mlb: toronto blue jays at new york yankees, estevan florial
Sep 21, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Estevan Florial (90) reacts after hitting an RBI double against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A darkhorse candidate to contribute at some point would be former first-round pick Spencer Jones. He had a 114 wRC+ in High-A in 2023 and a 104 mark in 17 Double-A games. He has a strikeout problem (28.2 percent in Somerset) but also boasts tantalizing tools.

Of course, the priority for playing time in center field will be for Dominguez once he gets back in action.

3. Jung-Hoo Lee

Lee is a free agent who has dominated the KBO (the Korean professional league) for years. He is speedy and athletic, his contact abilities are nearly unmatched, and he rarely strikes out.

Steamer projects him to hit .282/.342/.412 with nine home runs, a 108 wRC+, and 2.2 fWAR. Those numbers may look modest, but with his defensive value, bat control, and overall potential, the potential is there for more.

If the Yankees want to pay the market value (which could be between $50 and $60 million for a four-year deal), they could secure a solid leadoff option and center fielder.