The New York Yankees are yet to definitively settle on a permanent left fielder for the remainder of the 2023 season.
They’ve cycled through several players, including Greg Allen, Oswaldo Cabrera, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Jake Bauers, and should consider adding another contender to the mix who is currently excelling at the triple-A level.
The Yankees could give Estevan Florial another chance:
Estevan Florial, a former top prospect, was designated for assignment after participating in only a handful of games to kick off the 2023 season. However, he was able to clear waivers and rejoin the Yankees’ Triple-A team.
Florial has often been labeled an “AAAA” player, an indication of his dominance in the minor leagues but his struggle to translate that success to the Major League level.
Given the current uncertainties with the left field position, it may be prudent to offer Florial an extended opportunity, particularly considering his stellar performance with Scranton this year.
In 33 games, Florial has posted a batting average of .318 and an on-base percentage (OBP) of .440, contributing 10 home runs and 21 RBIs along with 10 stolen bases. While he does have a high strikeout rate of 32.1%, which tends to rise during his Major League appearances, he also boasts an impressive 18.2% walk rate, indicating increased discipline.
Florial has a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 162 and is slugging .612 over 159 plate appearances. His good speed, athleticism, and solid defensive skills make it intriguing that the Yankees have not given him another shot, considering the modest talent currently occupying left field.
The Yankees have even preferred Willie Calhoun as their primary designated hitter, who has a batting average of .229 and a .316 OBP.
Arguably, Florial could cause more disruption on the bases with his speed and offer defensive value, but the Yankees favor Calhoun, despite his underwhelming Major League career thus far.
Consider also Oswaldo Cabrera, who has been serving as the team’s primary super-utility player, but his offensive prowess has been lacking.
In 44 games and 157 plate appearances, Cabrera is batting .203 with a .256 OBP and a wRC+ of 54. He has hit three home runs, recorded 15 RBIs, a 19.7% strikeout rate, and a low 6.4% walk rate.
In essence, Cabrera’s contribution to the roster has been largely negative, and the Yankees might consider reassigning him back to Triple-A to refine his offensive skills and rebuild his confidence.
There’s a case to be made for demoting Jake Bauers and promoting Florial.
Bauers has played 19 games for the Yankees this season, batting .182 with a .288 OBP and a 36.5% strikeout rate. Given the overall mediocre offensive performance, there seems to be little reason to keep Florial in Triple-A without providing him with a substantial opportunity in the Major Leagues.
Much like Anthony Volpe, even when Florial isn’t getting hits, he still finds ways to reach base and utilize his speed to make an impact.
As the Yankees continue to explore options for their left field position, considering all potential players, including Florial, seems like a sensible approach.