Yankees gearing up for outfield reinforcements

aaron judge, yankees
Apr 28, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) sits in the dugout during during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are preparing for outfield reinforcements, but in the meantime, their unit is struggling significantly to generate any offense. Following the team’s 15-2 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, the Yankees are desperately attempting to return to the win column and display any signs of vitality.

Just as their offense ignited last week in the season finale against the Minnesota Twins, Aaron Judge sustained an injury, and the downward spiral continued.

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The Yankees’ roster construction is poor:

Regrettably, General Manager Brian Cashman did an exceedingly poor job assembling the starting outfield. While Judge is the reigning MVP and one of the game’s best players, relying on Harrison Bader as a dependable center fielder should be impermissible, and the likelihood of Giancarlo Stanton playing more than 20% of defensive innings is quite low.

Ultimately, Cashman failed to take into account the factors working against his outfield, so it is unsurprising that Judge, Bader, and Stanton are all coping with injuries.

The current starting outfield consists of Aaron Hicks, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Franchy Cordero, and Oswaldo Cabrera. Hicks, 33, boasts a .159 batting average and a .229 OBP this season, recording a 27.1% strikeout rate and a 13 wRC+. IKF has a .200 BA, a .245 OBP, and a 27 wRC+. Oswaldo Cabrera is hitting .200 with a .233 OBP and a 37 wRC+.

If you combine the wRC+ of Hicks, IKF, and Cabrera, you arrive at 77. For context, a 100 wRC+ represents a league-average player, so their combined production does not even equal that, posing a significant issue.

Fortunately, the team anticipates the return of several impact players in the coming days, notably Judge, Bader, and Jake Bauers, who exited after just one inning due to a remarkable sliding catch in left field over the weekend.

Losing Aaron Judge was the death blow:

Judge had played 25 consecutive games before the injury, and losing his bat resulted in a substantial decline for the Yankees’ offense. He was hitting .261 with a .352 OBP, including six home runs and 14 RBIs, prior to the injury. His 32.4% strikeout rate is undoubtedly atypical, but he was still walking at a 13% rate and represented one of the team’s most formidable hitters. Upon his return, Judge will aim to resume his MVP-caliber performance.

Conversely, Bader is an elite defensive center fielder with some power in his bat. Although he has struggled during his rehab assignments, his capabilities were evident during the 2022 postseason. Over nine games, he hit .333 with a .429 OBP, smashing five home runs.

It is crucial to note, however, that Bader has a career .245 average, a .317 OBP, and a 97 wRC+. His best season occurred in 2021 with the St. Louis Cardinals, when he hit 16 home runs with 50 RBIs, batting .267 with a .324 OBP. In the end, Bader is not expected to be a significant offensive force, but he should be far superior to the Yankees’ current options.

Once Bauers returns, he should also receive some opportunities. His right knee contusion has caused some swelling, but it should dissipate quickly, given the MRI revealed a clean prognosis.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged the team’s difficult stretch, but no one is feeling sorry for them. Poor roster construction appears to be at the core of their problems, considering the exorbitant amount of money spent on subpar talent.

The team currently has $117.8 million worth of players on the injured list, implying that they should improve as some players recover. Nevertheless, Cashman has invested substantially in aging and injury-prone talent, so it comes as no surprise that the Yankees are grappling with these issues.