The Yankees‘ 2023 spring training includes a number of different position battles, notably in left field. While general manager Brian Cashman refused to make any significant upgrades at the position this off-season, his commitment to veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks remains unwavering. However, he also included Estevan Florial and Oswaldo Cabrera as competitors for the starting job, but manager Aaron Boone had a different take.
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The Yankees need to let Oswaldo Cabrera reach his potential:
In fact, Boone doesn’t even view Cabrera as a primary outfielder, suggesting he will compete mainly in the infield, which makes no sense given the log jam that already presents itself with Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa seeking playing time.
Of course, LeMahieu is guaranteed to feature on an everyday basis, and despite the Yankees committing to Donaldson at third base, who’s to say his struggles don’t end up forcing him to the bench at some point?
Clearly, management views Hicks as the primary left fielder for the time being, as suggested by The Athletic.
Left field really seems like it’s Aaron Hicks’ to lose. This week, Boone said he views Oswaldo Cabrera primarily as an infielder. Most of the time, when there’s a spring training competition, it’s between people who view that position as their primary spot.Per Brendan Kuty of The Athletic.
Oswaldo Cabrera’s role should be far broader:
If anything, Cabrera should be considered a super-utility option who can play both the outfield and infield. His 13 defensive runs saved last season were phenomenal, but nine of them came in the outfield, showcasing great athleticism and energy. While Cabrera‘s natural position is second base, and he’s capable of playing nearly every infield spot, his value is far more expansive.
The Yankees committing to Hicks after consecutive down seasons certainly brews caution regarding any optimism in the outfield. Of course, Aaron Judge and Harrison Bader will offer elite defense and good offensive qualities, if not MVP caliber, which makes Hicks a weak spot.
The Yankees have dabbled with the idea of starting Giancarlo Stanton in right field and moving Judge to left on occasion, which would be an interesting strategy shift. However, coining Hicks as the cemented starter seems and feels premature, primarily since Cabrera provided plenty of optimism defensively in 2022 across 44 regular season games.