The New York Yankees are doing whatever it takes to ensure their outfield is prepared for a grueling 162 games season this year. While the left field position remains a question and concern, superstar slugger Aaron Judge is willing to do whatever it takes to help smooth over any deficiencies.
Having just signed a nine-year, $360 million extension, Judge is putting his best foot forward, doing whatever the team needs, potentially playing a bit of left-field this upcoming season.
Traditionally, Judge has featured in right field, one of the easier positions in Yankee Stadium. Ultimately, if manager Aaron Boone wants to get Giancarlo Stanton involved defensively, they would likely start him in an RF, keeping him as safe as possible from potential injury. With that being said, Harrison Bader, man’s centerfield and Judge can slot in at LF, providing the exponential value the Yankees desperately need from him this upcoming season.
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The Yankees have versatility across the board:
In fact, Judge was the one who brought up the idea of playing in left to give Stanton more opportunities to feature defensively. Of course, injury has been a significant issue for Giancarlo the past few years, but they need to leverage his value, considering he’s making over $30 million per season.
“I did mention it to them about, ‘If we need to get Big G in right field at Yankee Stadium, put me in left,’” Judge said on Feb 21. “I don’t mind it. I don’t mind switching around so we can have me, [center fielder Harrison Bader] and Big G out there. We’ll get some reps, hopefully, in spring training and get comfortable out there.”
At 30 years old, Judge is still in the middle of his prime, but he’s only ever played center and right field at the professional level. He has 4,611 innings to his name in RF and 798.2 in CF. Of course, the Yankees didn’t have Bader at their disposal until the end of the 2022 campaign, so having him fully healthy for the upcoming season should give them far more flexibility in their outfield alignments.
Nonetheless, it is great to see that Judge is taking on more responsibility and showing his leadership qualities. The team could ultimately acquire a new left-fielder at the deadline over the summer, especially if Aaron Hicks struggles to open the year.
However, both Rafael Ortega and Willie Calhoun have looked solid this spring, putting them in a position to win a 26-man roster spot. If that is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the left field position battle drags on into the regular season with Boone playing the hot hand on an everyday basis.