The New York Yankees have struggled to build a competent outfield, with the notable exception of superstar Aaron Judge. With Judge recently signing a nine-year, $360 million extension this past offseason, the right-field spot is firmly in his grip. As we look ahead to 2024, we might see entirely new faces in both the left and center field positions.
The Yankees Need to Make Changes
This year, the Yankees have relied on Harrison Bader in center field and rotated several players in left field, resulting in subpar offensive output. As of Tuesday afternoon, Bader was placed on waivers. Should another team aiming for a playoff run pick him up, it could signal the Yankees’ shift toward a youth-oriented approach for the next season.
Future Left Fielder: Everson Pereira’s Potential
The Yankees are keenly watching outfield prospect Everson Pereira, who has made significant strides in Triple-A before his recent promotion. Over 35 games at that level, Pereira boasted a .312 average, a .386 OBP, eight home runs, 33 RBIs, and a 130 wRC+.
Although Pereira has struggled in his first eight games with the Yankees—especially in the strikeout department—this is an anticipated growing pain. Across 31 plate appearances, he’s hitting just .107 with a .194 OBP but has a promising 9.7% walk rate, alongside a concerning 41.9% strikeout rate. Improvement here is crucial, but additional at-bats should theoretically boost his stats.
Given that Pereira brings a solid defensive game and decent power to the plate, he has every chance of locking down a starting spot in the Yankees outfield next season. While there’s always the possibility that the team might invest in a veteran player, thereby reducing Pereira to a utility role, his performance in the upcoming spring training will be pivotal.
Center Field Prospects: Jasson Dominguez’s Rise
Jasson Dominguez, a 20-year-old switch hitter, is another exciting prospect who’s been lighting it up since his promotion to Triple-A. While his Double-A stats were decent—a .254 average and .367 OBP with 15 homers and 66 RBIs—his performance in Triple-A has been nothing short of electric. Dominguez has a .444 average and a .531 OBP over eight games, bolstered by 10 RBIs, a .593 slugging rate, and an impressive 187 wRC+. Add to that a minuscule 6.3% strikeout rate and a 15.6% walk rate, and you have a future MLB star in the making.
With Bader possibly leaving the team, there’s a chance Dominguez could be promoted this September, Brendan Kuty of The Athletic reported. This development would undoubtedly excite fans, especially considering that Dominguez is on a fast track to potentially winning the starting center field job next spring.
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The Right Field Mainstay: Aaron Judge’s Inconsistency
Aaron Judge remains unchallenged in right field, although his current season has been marred by injuries. In 78 games, he’s posted a .266 average and .395 OBP, along with 29 homers and 56 RBIs. Additionally, he has a 28.8% strikeout rate and a 17.8% walk rate. Though still impacted by a lingering toe injury, Judge maintains a robust 174 wRC+ and a 3.7 WAR.
Should he regain full health, there’s a possibility that Judge could surpass his own home run record next season. In the meantime, we can expect Giancarlo Stanton to occasionally fill in at right field, allowing Judge to serve as the designated hitter and thereby minimizing his risk of further injuries.
The Yankees’ outfield situation remains a work in progress, with new prospects challenging for starting roles. As 2024 approaches, these youngsters could provide the energy and skill needed to revamp the team’s lineup.