The New York Yankees are expecting trade acquisition Harrison Bader, back any day now, but his expected return will force manager Aaron Boone to make a few interesting decisions.
When general manager Brian Cashman elected to trade Jordan Montgomery in exchange for an injured outfielder, he was looking ahead to the postseason.
The team viewed Bader as an elite centerfielder with great base running and some underrated power metrics. There’s no doubt that the former St. Louis Cardinal has plenty of valuable tools the Yankees can extrapolate on, but injecting him back into the outfield will shift a few other players around.
Notably, Aaron Judge will leave CF and head back to right field, despite his dominance in multiple areas. However, not only Judge will have to make room, Oswaldo Cabrera will have to change positions once again.
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How should the Yankees approach Oswaldo Cabrera?
The Yankees would prefer for Judge to play right field, but Cabrera has been phenomenal there defensively, and his bat is finally starting to awaken. Across 21 games and 171.2 innings of action in right field, Cabrera hosts a perfect fielding percentage and nine defensive runs saved above average. He has been a fantastic defender by most metrics, but the Bombers will have to transition him once again, with LF making the most sense.
The Yankees had Cabrera taking a few fly balls in left prior to Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the moment Bader returns, we should expect him to transition full-time. It doesn’t seem as though veteran Aaron Hicks is in line to get any more reps, given his struggles offensively this season and lackadaisical approach in the outfield.
Offensively, there is certainly a lot left to be desired with Oswaldo. Cabrera is hitting .228 with a 28.8% on-base rate, including two homers and 10 RBIs up to this point. He’s striking out at 27% clip but is walking at 8.1%, which is a solid number.
However, over his last few days, Cabrera has certainly picked things up. Specifically, over his last seven days, he’s hit .333 with a 47.8% on-base rate, including one homer, two RBIs, and five walks. Over his last four games, he’s tallied six hits, showcasing solid patience at the plate.
Ideally, the Yankees continue to give Cabrera reps, hoping his bat gains a bit of consistency before the playoffs. There is no guarantee that Andrew Benintendi will be ready as he continues recovering from a wrist injury that will likely limit him the rest of the way.
If Cabrera gets hot and feels confident during the postseason, the Yankees can continue to rest Benintendi to make sure he’s ready for the homestretch if the Bombers push beyond the first round.
Nonetheless, given Oswaldo’s fresh legs and youthful approach in the outfield, it would be malpractice to take him out of the equation now.