Projecting the Yankees’ starting outfield in 2023

harrison bader, yankees
Sep 24, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa (12) and center fielder Harrison Bader (22) celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 7-5 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The only solidified piece in the outfield for the Yankees is centerfielder Harrison Bader, who general manager Brian Cashman acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline this past season. Cashman gave away starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery in exchange for Bader, who was dealing with plantar fasciitis at the time.

However, the elite defenseman was electric during the playoffs, which is exactly what the Yankees expected despite their early exit.

With left field and right field still up for grabs, the Yankees have plenty of work to do, notably negotiating with Aaron Judge and his representatives and either retaining Andrew Benintendi or looking elsewhere. Based on recent rumors and logic, let’s project with the outfield could look like next year.

Projecting the Yankees’ starting outfield in 2023:

LF: Andrew Benintendi

Cashman could look toward Masataka Yoshida from Japan to fill the left field spot, but Benintendi makes the most sense given his MLB experience. At 28 years old, he hit .304 with a 37.3% on-base rate, including five homers and 51 RBIs with the Royals and Yankees this past season. His numbers dipped wearing the pinstripes, hitting .254 with a 33.1% on-base rate, but there is no doubt that he’s capable of elite contact hitting and quality defensive play.

In addition, he has plenty of postseason experience, hitting .272 with a 32.2% on-base rate across 21 playoff games.

The Yankees have documented interest in retaining Benintendi, but he will cost around $15 million per season to extend.

CF: Harrison Bader

As aforementioned, Bader was fantastic during the postseason for the Bombers. Specifically, he hit .333 with a 43% on-base rate, including five homers over nine playoff games. He is traditionally a great postseason player, and paired with his defense, he projects to be one of the Yankees’ leaders next season.

Bader only played in 86 games this past year due to the plantar fasciitis injury, sporting a 29.4% on-base rate, a career-low up to this point.

However, given his range and intangible traits, he is an easy player to root for that should carve out a nice role for himself with one of your left of control until he has free agency in 2024.

RF: Aaron Judge

The Yankees simply can’t let Aaron Judge leave since he provided the majority of their offense during the second half of the 2022 season. The 30-year-old slugger hit a career-best .311 with a 42.5% base rate, 62 homers, and 131 RBIs. He was the best player in baseball, and it wasn’t even close, justifying the massive contract he’s about to land in free agency.

Reports have indicated that Judge has a deal on the table worth $37.5 million per year for eight seasons. That would accumulate to $300 million over that timeframe.

Some believe that his trip out west to visit the San Francisco Giants is a ploy to drive up his price tag for the Yankees, which it undoubtedly will. Nonetheless, the Bombers can’t afford to lose their best player, especially since they don’t plan on spending big at shortstop with Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe making the transition to the bigs next year.