The New York Yankees are heading into spring training with a position battle ready to commence in left field. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera remain the two primary competitors, but manager Aaron Boone hinted at the possibility of a new outlook when the team reports next month.
“We still have a few weeks to go before we even report, so you never know what the final composition of your roster is heading into spring and then into the regular season,” Boone said. “And that’s always a fluid situation.Aaron Boone said via the Yankees Hot Stove on YES Network.
The Yankees have been connected to Jurickson Profar:
The Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman have already missed out on the top free agents, despite being linked to Jurickson Profar, who spent the last two seasons with the San Diego Padres.
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Profar is a decent player, offering a switch-hitting bat, hitting .243 with a .331 OBP last season, including 15 homers and 58 RBIs. Profar has a good arm but lacks the athleticism and consistency in the outfield to be an above-average defender. At the very least, he would offer better offensive metrics than Hicks and Cabrera, but providing Oswaldo with an opportunity to win the starting job shouldn’t be out of the question.
Of course, the Bombers could look to the trade market as an alternative, but giving up prospects and paying salary might not be the best move. Nonetheless, skipping out on Andrew Benintendi, Michael Brantley, Michael Conforto, and several other quality free agents may end up biting the Yankees in the butt down the road. It is possible they look to the trade deadline later this year to solve the position ahead of the playoffs, but for the time being, it seems to be Cabrera’s job to lose.
I also wouldn’t rule out Rafael Ortega for making a case to earn starting reps. At 31 years old, Ortega played in 118 games last season for the Chicago Cubs. He hit seven homers with 35 RBIs, posting a .241 average and a .331 OBP.
Defensively, Ortega spent 592.2 innings in the outfield, recording -2 defensive runs saved above average and -1 out above average. He’s not the best defender in the world, but he does have some pop to his bat and did get on base at a 36% clip back in 2021.
It can’t hurt to have competition in left field, but if all the options are average to below-average-level players, being optimistic is hard to justify.