Yankees considering promoting Triple-A phenom after hot start of 2023

jake bauers, yankees
Feb 24, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Jake Bauers (60) catches a ball during spring training practice at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

At some point, the New York Yankees will need to transition away from Franchy Cordero and potentially Willie Calhoun, considering he offers the team minimal defensive value. Calhoun has posted four hits in the last two games combined, showcasing why he was once considered a top prospect.

Manager Aaron Boone is confident in Calhoun, but he’s still only hitting .226 with a .273 OBP across nine games this year. The sample size is small, and the Yankees are willing to give him a bit more slack, but Cordero’s situation isn’t as optimistic.

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The Yankees will eventually need to drop Franchy:

Cordero, a 28-year-old with substantial MLB experience, is hitting a measly .160 with a .192 OBP, striking out at a 34.6% clip and walking at just 3.8%. His 63 wRC+ is dropping like a rock, and his defensive value is spotty at best.

There is a possibility that the Yankees may choose to send Cordero back to Triple-A using their remaining minor-league option. In this scenario, they may opt to promote the talented left-handed hitter and versatile player, Jake Bauers, who can play first base and the corner outfield positions. Despite being 27 years old, he has only played 328 MLB games throughout his career, maintaining a .213 batting average and .307 OBP with an 82 wRC+.

The Yankees have noticed Jake Bauers tearing up Triple-A:

Bauers is lighting up Triple-A Scranton, logging a 1.335 OPS. He’s also earned a .328 average with a .476 OBP and a .859 slugging percentage. He has put himself on the map after making a few changes to his swing, leveling out his launch angle, and reducing his strikeout rate significantly.

In fact, he’s walking 6% more than has experienced a 16.9% strikeout rate, down from 33.6% last year with Scranton.

Bauers has undoubtedly caught the eye of manager Aaron Boone, who is considering him as a potential promotion candidate after his hot start.

“He’s definitely caught our eye and certainly a lot of us pay attention to that,” Boone said on Wednesday. “We’ll see what happens.”

Ultimately, the Yankees could benefit from some fresh talent in left field, as Oswaldo Cabrera and Cordero have been struggling significantly. While Cabrera is a skilled defensive player with considerable utility value, he has started the year with a disappointing .216 batting average and a .244 OBP, hitting only one home run and earning seven RBIs.

Regrettably, Cabrera’s chase rate and swing choices are occasionally subpar, displaying unnecessary aggression that has resulted in a meager 3.8% walk rate. With an 8.8% walk rate last year, he could become a viable offensive player if he were to take more pitches and achieve an on-base percentage of around 30%.

Cabrera is one of the promising young talents on the roster, but his offensive output has placed Boone in a difficult position, attempting to find alternatives in left field. It appears that Aaron Hicks has been entirely removed from the discussion, given his .129 batting average, .206 OBP, and -1 wRC+.

Physically, Hicks no longer possesses the power he once had, and mentally, the criticism has evidently impacted his performance. It would not be surprising if the Yankees designated Hicks for assignment or attempted to offload him in a more significant trade by this year’s deadline.

In the meantime, Cordero appears to be the most likely candidate to be reassigned to Triple-A, with Bauers taking his spot on the 40-man roster and assuming any playing time Cordero would have otherwise received.