Yankees getting reinforcements with return of lefty slugging outfielder

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees, jake bauers
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees urgently need to bolster their outfield via General Manager Brian Cashman making a move at the trade deadline to secure an above-average hitter. While potential trade targets, such as Cody Bellinger, Dylan Carlson, and Brendan Donovan, have been linked with the team, their respective price tags remain undisclosed.

Early Season Hopes and Disappointments

In an ideal scenario, the Yankees would have secured a starting left fielder at the start of the season when a position battle was looming between Oswaldo Cabrera and Aaron Hicks. Regrettably, neither player lived up to expectations. Hicks has since transferred to the Baltimore Orioles, and Cabrera was sent back to AAA multiple times this season due to unimpressive offensive performance.

Jake Bauers: A Surprising Offensive Asset for the Yankees

Nevertheless, the team discovered a reliable offensive component in the outfield – Jake Bauers. The 27-year-old, after bouncing between the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Guardians, and Seattle Mariners in the early years of his career, has found some form.

After missing the 2022 season while refining his offensive tactics in AAA, he’s made a commendable return to the MLB. Across 49 games this season, Bauers holds a .224 batting average and .312 OBP, in addition to seven homers and 19 RBIs. While these figures may not scream efficiency, Bauers’ effectiveness against right-handed pitchers is noteworthy.

Fortunately, Bauers has started a rehab assignment in Triple-A, even hitting a home-run on Thursday night following a shoulder injury. He should be back with the team within the next few days.

Evaluating Bauers’ Performance

Bauers’ impressive performance against right-handed pitchers yielded all seven of his home runs, a .487 slugging rate, and a .806 OPS. His 114 wRC+ this season marks a significant career-best.

Despite his offensive prowess, it’s fair to state that Bauers is not a top-tier defender. With a .966 fielding percentage across 283.2 innings in the outfield this year, including -7 defensive runs saved and -2 outs above average, he falls short of starting-level players.

However, as a platoon player, he serves as sufficient depth. In fact, Bauers has been one of the Yankees’ best bats this season, which speaks volumes about the team’s current state. Losing his services has been challenging to compensate for.

The Potential Role of Bauers

Should Cashman successfully resolve the left-field issue, Bauers could revert to a reserve role. There, he would provide valuable support against right-handed pitchers and come off the bench as a relief player rather than an everyday starter when fit. The Yankees would thus benefit greatly from securing a more consistent performer for the left-field position.

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