Yankees News: One lowkey outfielder pushing for spot on active roster

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce
Mar 6, 2021; Bradenton, Florida, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Jay Bruce (30) hits a home run in the top of the first inning during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have a position battle developing in the outfield, and despite bringing back veteran Brett Gardner for the 2021 season and a club option for 2022, he will have to earn his spot on the roster. Considering the number of injuries the team has dealt with in the OF, coming from Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks, having quality depth is a necessity.

The Yankees brought in Derek Dietrich, Jay Bruce, and Socrates Brito. So far, Dietrich and Bruce are battling it out for an active roster spot, with both of them being neck and neck up to this point.

In the Yankees’ recent loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bruce launched a home run in the first inning, showing off his power. Bruce picked up a left quad injury last season in September, which dampened his production and efficiency, but he’s finally back to full strength.

“I know that I’m good enough to be on the roster,” Bruce said at LECOM Park, where the Yankees fell to the Pirates, 3-2 in seven innings. “There’s no question, personally, about that, in my opinion. It goes back to health. Also, a lot of times, it depends on how they want to shape the roster. It depends on what they need from a defensive standpoint and just a player standpoint. So I’m not really concerning myself with a lot of that. If I’m healthy, I’m a good option.”

Last season, Bruce appeared and 32 games, logging a .198 average with six homers and 14 RBIs. The year prior, he had 26 HRs, which is exactly why the Yankees feel he could be a solid addition as a depth piece. At 33 years old, he’s not the most proficient defender, but he can do the bare minimum at an average level.

“A couple more good at-bats,” manager Aaron Boone said. “He continues to look really good here early in camp. I think it’s a product of him being healthy and feeling good, being the hitter he’s been most of his career.”

The Yankees love their sluggers, and Bruce fits that mold perfectly. Just in case Judge or Stanton is forced to miss any time, he can fill their roles easily and provide run support in that category.

Dietrich is also capable of hitting double-digit HRs, but simply not as many as Bruce — he does have a bit more patience at the plate and offers better defense.