Yankees face massive problem in centerfield after Jasson Dominguez injury

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, jasson dominguez
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon, the New York Yankees received a gut punch. Their rising star, Jasson Dominguez, has suffered a UCL injury that’s likely to bench him for months. While it’s a relief that Dominguez isn’t a pitcher—which would necessitate a year-long recovery—his prospects for a full return this season appear dim. The earliest we can expect him back in a key role is June 2024.

“Definitely very shocking news. You’re never expecting for this to be the result,” Dominguez said through an interpreter.

Dominguez’s Short Stint: A Glimpse of a Bright Future

Promoted recently from Triple-A, Dominguez made a splash in just eight games, recording a .258 batting average, a .303 OBP, four homers, seven RBIs, a 24.2% strikeout rate, a 6.1% walk rate, and a 161 wRC+. Clearly, the Yankees were already smitten by his performance, earmarking him as their 2024 starting center fielder.

“Crushed for him,” Boone said. “At the same time, he’s a young man and these things resolve themselves, so it’s a moment in time in the grand scheme of things in what we feel like has a chance to be a long, excellent career. So, it’s about taking care of it now.”

The Roster Quandary: Cashman’s Tough Choices

The injury to Dominguez means that Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman now faces a dilemma: Who will fill the void in centerfield until Dominguez’s anticipated return? It’s highly likely that the young outfielder will see some Triple-A action during his rehabilitation phase. However, the Yankees will have to find an interim solution for at least three months.

Yankees’ Potential Replacements: Bader, Kiner-Falefa, Pereira, or a Free Agent?

The Yankees have several alternatives, ranging from re-signing Harrison Bader after a challenging year, retaining Isiah Kiner-Falefa, or giving their prospect Everson Pereira a shot. Pereira, 22, has had a rough transition to the majors, hitting just .150 with a .239 OBP. However, the youngster still has a few more weeks to hone his skills and prove his worth.

The Free Agency Route: To Splurge or Not to Splurge

If they decide to dig deep into their pockets, the Yankees could potentially land a star like Cody Bellinger, who is presently hitting .318 with a .361 OBP. While Bellinger is undeniably the most lucrative option on the market, the catch is the high cost. The Yankees might hesitate to invest heavily in a player nearing 30 with just one above-average season in his last three.

The Long Game: Developing Prospects for a Strong 2025

Another avenue for the Yankees could be to focus on developing their existing talent pool with an eye on 2025. This approach would also allow them to potentially sign free-agent-to-be Juan Soto, creating a dream outfield with Aaron Judge and a recovered Dominguez. For many Yankees fans, this might be a gamble worth taking.

Cashman’s Conundrum: Balancing the Present and Future

Brian Cashman faces a difficult task: he must enhance the current roster without being financially reckless. The challenge lies in finding affordable talent that can deliver above-average performances—a task that’s easier said than done.

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