The New York Yankees have been rotating and realigning their outfield daily as they wait for Harrison Bader to return from an oblique injury. Of course, Aaron Judge continues to manage a starting spot, and anytime Giancarlo Stanton is capable of playing defense, he is out there.
However, Stanton has mainly featured as the designated hitter, opening up an outfield slot that has surprisingly been taken over by Franchy Cordero, who was signed from the Baltimore Orioles just days before the regular season.
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The Yankees love Franchy Cordero’s contributions:
With Aaron Hicks falling out of favor and Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s lack of experience in the outfield, Cordero has earned reps early on, especially given his lefty bat.
At 28 years old, Franchy is putting together a tremendous start to the 2023 season, playing in four games and enjoying 15 plate appearances. However, he’s hitting .357 with a .400 OBP, two homers, and seven RBIs across that sample size. His 243 wRC+ is one of the best on the team, and he’s striking out at just a 20% rate, down from his career average of 34.5%.
Cordero has even landed positive remarks from 2022 MVP Aaron Judge, who clearly values his bat.
“He’s been big-time, a big power bat for us,” Judge said on Sunday. “He’s doing all of the little things for us. I’m excited to see what he can do for us this season.”
This spring, Cordero was excellent with Baltimore, hitting .413 with a .426 OBP, two homers, and nine RBIs across 46 at-bats. With a bigger sample size, Cordero is continuing his success, and the Yankees are getting tremendous value as they wait for Bader to recover.
Ultimately, with Hicks struggling to get on base and IKF failing to record a hit across 12 plate appearances, Cordero has become the obvious first-choice reserve outfielder, which could ultimately force the Yankees to drop one of their other utility pieces, notably IKF.
Hicks and his $10.5 million salary are difficult to offload, so moving IKF to a team that needs a starting-level defensive infielder could be the right move, saving them $6 million in the process.
However, I wouldn’t expect the Yankees to stop utilizing Cordero moving forward, especially against the Cleveland Guardians on Monday night at 6:10 PM. Star pitcher Shane Bieber will be on the mound, a right-handed arm with a 2.25 ERA and 10 strikeouts to his name across 12 innings this season. Bieber has been electric, and the Yankees will need their top bats in the lineup tonight to emerge victorious.