Yankees facing ‘tough’ decision with top outfield prospect inching toward return

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees
Sep 8, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Jasson Dominguez (89) hits a two run home run in the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are managing top prospect Jasson Dominguez’s recovery from Tommy John surgery with care, yet he is swiftly advancing through his rehabilitation program and is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the coming days. Manager Aaron Boone hinted that Dominguez could start his rehab as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday with Single-A Tampa.

Dominguez’s Swift Recovery and Impending Impact

Given his rapid progress, Dominguez is poised to rejoin the Yankees significantly ahead of schedule.

Last season, his absence left a notable void in the Yankees’ outfield, prompting the team to strengthen the position during the off-season with acquisitions like Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. While the outfield lineup currently looks solid, Dominguez’s return could provide a welcome boost, particularly if the team encounters injuries or inconsistencies.

The Stanton Dilemma and Dominguez’s Potential Role in the Yankees’ Outfield

The question of when the Yankees might start considering Giancarlo Stanton a liability looms large. Stanton’s performance this season includes a batting average of .230, an OBP of .283, and a slugging percentage of .452, with eight home runs and 20 RBIs across 36 games. His strikeout rate has surged to 34.5%, and his walk rate has declined, yielding a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 110—only 10% above the league average, which is underwhelming for a designated hitter earning over $30 million annually.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees, giancarlo stanton
Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his limited defensive contributions and declining offensive output, Stanton has typically received a generous amount of patience from the Yankees. However, with Dominguez nearing a return, the team will soon need to consider whether to give him regular playtime, either as a designated hitter or in the outfield.

“Hopefully it is a tough decision at that point, because good things are happening here,” Boone remarked on Saturday, via the New York Post. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Looking ahead, 2025 is anticipated to be the year Dominguez fully transitions to a starting role, ideally alongside Aaron Judge and Soto. Last year, in just eight MLB games, Dominguez showcased his potential by hitting .258/.303/.677 with four home runs and seven RBIs, achieving a wRC+ of 162. His performance included a home run off Justin Verlander in Houston, underscoring his capability to handle elite pitching.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees
Sep 8, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Jasson Dominguez (89) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With the rise of talents like Spencer Jones within the organization, the Yankees are preparing for difficult decisions regarding outfield positions. Boone continues to express strong confidence in Dominguez’s abilities, emphasizing his potential for a successful major league career.

“I always feel like I’ve been one of the high guys on Jasson,” Boone said. “Going back to last spring, I’m like, this guy’s a big-leaguer. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to have a really good major league career. … Now, when does that happen? When does he really take off and pop and all that? That always is an unknown and remains to be seen. Everyone’s trajectory is different. But I am confident in the person and the talent.”

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