The off-season for the New York Yankees is abuzz with rumors, particularly around the potential acquisition of Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres. However, the Yankees might opt for a more cost-effective solution to fill their center field gap temporarily while prospect Jasson Dominguez recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Yankees Exploring Options with Kevin Kiermaier
The Yankees have reportedly been in discussions with Kevin Kiermaier, according to The Athletic. Kiermaier, who played the 2023 season with the Toronto Blue Jays, has previously spent nearly a decade with the Tampa Bay Rays. His experience in the AL East could continue with the Yankees, as he has expressed interest in joining them.
Kiermaier is seen as an ideal short-term solution in center field for the Yankees while they await Dominguez’s recovery. In the past season, he played 129 games, achieving a .265 batting average and a .322 OBP, with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. Despite being an average offensive player, Kiermaier’s defensive prowess in center field is noteworthy.
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Kiermaier’s Defensive Strength
Regarded as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, Kiermaier played 981.1 innings in the outfield last season. He boasts a .989 fielding percentage, with 18 defensive runs and 13 outs above average. At 33, he still maintains remarkable athleticism, speed, and range.
Kiermaier’s left-handed bat could benefit from the shorter right field at Yankee Stadium, potentially increasing his offensive production.
A one-year, $10 million deal for Kiermaier would provide the Yankees with an effective stopgap in the outfield at a reasonable cost. This move is significantly more budget-friendly compared to pursuing high-profile free agents like Cody Bellinger.
The Bellinger Factor
While the Yankees have shown interest in acquiring Cody Bellinger, they face tough choices between him, Soto, and cost-effective alternatives like Kiermaier. With Bellinger expected to command a substantial contract, the Yankees must carefully weigh their options and decide which path aligns best with their strategic and financial goals.