One player the Yankees should promote to the 26-man roster

willie calhoun, yankees
Feb 26, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Willie Calhoun (24) hits a RBI single in the third inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees non-roster invite Willie Calhoun has had a fantastic spring, and hopefully, it’ll propel him to the Opening Day roster. While I don’t think he’ll be starting in the outfield, specifically because he’s just an atrocious defender, but I could be proven wrong. He is, however, still swinging an excellent bat and has showcased his skills offensively this spring. The Yankees could benefit from having another quality bat on the 26-man, and Calhoun could play DH and fill in for Stanton when he plays the outfield or has an off-day.

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Willie’s spring has sprung:

Over the past few weeks, it has been Willie’s world, and we’re just living in it. His triple slash of .344/.447/.500 has him sitting with an impressive .947 OPS with less than two weeks until Opening Day is upon us. At this point, Calhoun has done everything he can to show he deserves a chance, and “The Guinea Pig” has proven he can still hang with the big boys.

Last year, it looked like he was on the way out of the league, as he struggled to get anything going over a small sample of chances. He OPS’d .524 in just 22 games with the Rangers and San Francisco. That saw him get released by both organizations, and he decided to sign a minor league deal as an NRI to Spring Training with the Yanks back in December. Now, with ten days until OD, he is fighting tooth and nail for a roster spot. I believe he’s done enough to warrant a spot on the bench, but I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say he’s in the running for the left-field position.

Unfortunately, I believe LF was always Aaron Hicks’ and that no matter what he did in spring, it would be his come Opening Day. Now, he’s actually put together a nice spring with the stick, but defensively he looks as mentally checked out as always. There have been not one, not two, but three separate instances where he showed little-to-no effort on them, thus resulting in extra bases or runs coming across the board. Willie, on the other hand, hasn’t really seen tons of reps out in the outfield these past few weeks. He’s seen lots of time at DH, and that does lead me to believe that the Yankees do probably prefer rolling him as a bat-only guy rather than tank his value by tossing him in left field.

Willie Calhoun deserves a spot on the Yankees’ roster:

I want to believe that Willie is going to be given an opportunity to show he belongs. He’s still only 28 years old and has time to put it together. He was once a top prospect in the Rangers organization, and a few years ago, he did clobber 21 home runs in just 83 games back in 2019. Calhoun would also add another lefty bat to the team, and with the short porch, it’s always a big advantage when the Yanks can roll out numerous lefties that are very pull-happy.

I believe the Yankees will prefer to DFA Florial and run with one of Calhoun or Ortega on the Opening Day roster, but it’ll be interesting to see who they end up rolling with. Hicks will likely start in LF on Opening Day, though I can still see a world in which they roll Oswaldo Cabrera and Aaron Judge in LF/CF — whichever combination they choose — and then have Giancarlo man RF. That way, Volpe and Peraza can man the middle infield, and then Gleyber Torres can still get his hacks in as the DH. It’d likely be the best allocation of resources the team currently has, but I still think it’s important to have another outfielder or two at the ready.

Let me tell you now, Willie Calhoun is ready. This is the year of redemption for him, the time is now for him to turn around a rather disappointing career, and what better place to do it than in the Bronx? Assuming he continues to hit the ball well, there should be no reserves about getting him some reps and letting him build out a consistent role with this team. I want to believe in the Guinea Pig, and it would be truly poetic if he came out guns-a-blazing and hit like he’s never hit before.