One of the key positions the New York Yankees need to solve this off-season is centerfield. Jasson Dominguez will miss the majority of the 2024 season due to Tommy John surgery, with his earliest return being in July.
However, the Yankees don’t want to be relying on Dominguez, who has only eight games of MLB experience, to make his subsequent return and step into the batting order immediately. Having the luxury of giving Dominguez time in the minor leagues to get back to his usual self would be an ideal situation, and the Yankees could look for a cheap and athletic option to fill the position for a year.
Kevin Kiermaier is the Perfect Fit for the Yankees
Many are salivating over the idea of Korean star Jung-hoo Lee, a 25-year-old lefty with elite plate discipline. This past season, he hit .318 with a .406 OBP and .455 slugging rate, including a 5.9% strikeout rate across 86 games. Lee has tremendous upside but will certainly land a multiyear deal, whereas the Yankees can look toward Kevin Kiermaier as an alternative on a one-year contract with a team option in 2025.
Kiermaier may only cost $10 million for one year, having just played on a one-year, $9 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over 129 games, he posted a .265 average, .322 OPP, and .419 slugging rate, including eight homers, 36 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases.
His slugging metrics included a 32.9% hard-hit rate, 3.5% barrel rate, and 86.7 average exit velocity. He certainly isn’t the best slugger in the world, but he makes decent contact. he hits for average and is a defensive maestro in the most important outfield spot.
This past season, he earned a .989 fielding percentage across 981.1 innings, tallying an impressive 18 defensive runs saved and 13 outs above average. Imagine Harrison Bader with a lefty bad and slightly above-average offensive contributions. It seems like a match made in heaven for the Yankees, who may want a cheaper solution so they can spend more on star international pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto and potentially acquire Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres. Yamamoto is expected to land a deal in the $200 million range, and Soto has an estimated salary in arbitration of $30 million.
While it’s easy to say that ownership will spend big and overhaul the roster, the Yankees are likely looking at a few key pieces to add to the mix. Kiermaier is a great supplement in centerfield while Dominguez recovers, and he’s cheap enough that they don’t have to spend big on a solution.