A significant decision lies ahead for the New York Yankees as they navigate the upcoming off-season: who will take centerfield while Jasson Dominguez recuperates from his Tommy John surgery?
The latest projections suggest we might not see Dominguez in action until next June, even though he could potentially swing the bat a few months earlier. Given Giancarlo Stanton’s limitations on defense, it’s improbable that the Yankees would rush Dominguez to the MLB just for his batting, choosing instead to await his complete recovery.
During his brief exposure to the majors after a promotion from Triple-A, Dominguez showcased impressive stats in an eight-game stint. The 20-year-old sensation averaged .258, boasting a .303 OBP and a commendable .677 slugging rate. With four homers, seven RBIs, a 24.2% strikeout rate, a 6.1% walk rate, and a 162 wRC+ to his name, Dominguez captivated fans by sending balls soaring into the outfield stands, offering a glimmer of hope in the Yankees’ otherwise lackluster 2023 season.
While the consensus is that Dominguez will eventually command centerfield, a transition to left field remains on the cards.
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Estevan Florial: A Cost-effective Solution?
In the interim, the Yankees are in pursuit of a temporary fix. However, splurging on a high-priced player for a short stint might not be the wisest move. Enter Estevan Florial, a potential solution that’s not only cost-effective but also already within the roster.
Florial, at 25, is dismantling the perception of him being a “AAAA” player. Presently, he’s batting .231, complemented by a .348 OBP. Over a dozen MLB games this season, he has clocked six RBIs, a 23.9% strikeout rate, a 10.9% walk rate, and a 104 wRC+. Though his power hasn’t been in full display, Florial has been a beneficial addition to the Yankees, currently riding a wave with a three-game hit streak that includes two RBIs, two doubles, and a triple.
Once hailed as a top prospect, Florial’s attributes align with what the Yankees need: a reliable stopgap and future reserve. With minimal trade value and no minor-league options remaining, the Yankees might be poised to harness Florial’s capabilities till Dominguez’s return, after which Florial could seamlessly slide into a backup position. This approach would be financially prudent, providing the Yankees with monetary flexibility to court talents like Yoshinobu Yamamoto and amplify their batting order.
Homegrown Talent: The Yankees’ Potential Game Plan
Come next season, Florial might find himself vying for left-field reps, especially with Everson Pereira also making the jump. Owner Hal Steinbrenner might prompt general manager Brian Cashman to exercise financial restraint this off-season, especially in light of anticipated reshuffles in the front office.
Relying on their homegrown assets could emerge as a judicious strategy under a tighter budget. If Florial continues his upward trajectory, he’d undeniably deserve a thorough assessment during spring training, ensuring the Yankees have adequate coverage until Dominguez’s anticipated comeback.