On Friday, the New York Yankees reportedly re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a team and a player option for 2022. The signing wasn’t a huge surprise, but long-anticipated after waiting until mid-February to ink a deal.
With the Gardner signing, it jumbles up the outfield picture for 2021. Gardner will be the fourth outfielder this season, with Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge as the starters. Giancarlo Stanton will DH this season but can play outfield if absolutely neccessary.
This puts both Mike Tauchman and Greg Allen in a position battle for the “fifth outfielder” role. The Yankees will carry a three or four-man bench for most of the season with a back-up catcher, an infielder, and possibly two outfielders. Between Tauchman and Allen, whoever wins the position battle will likely be the second outfielder behind Gardner.
Tauchman has been solid for the Yankees in his short tenure, playing in 130 games since the beginning of the 2019 season. He’s hit .268 with a .807 OPS and a 116 OPS+ in pinstripes. He provides lefty power, knocking 13 home runs as a Yankee. Additionally, Tauchman brings speed and a good glove to the table.
The Yankees acquired Greg Allen in a trade from the San Diego Padres this off-season, and he has the potential to make an impact. Allen’s one of the quickest players in the league and a decent defender with a 0.4 dWAR. Offensively, he has just a .641 career OPS but is more of a contact hitter with a .251 career average.
Tauchman is overall the better player, but what could help Allen is that he’s a switch hitter. The Yankees need lefties, and even though Tauchman is a lefty, having switch hitters on the roster can go a long way for match-ups.
With position players reporting to Spring Training this week, it’ll be interesting to see how this outfield position battle plays out.