The Yankees have an important position battle unfolding in left field this spring. Hoping that veteran Aaron Hicks can bounce back after consecutive down years is certainly optimistic, which is why manager Aaron Boone is pinning Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial against him.
Ultimately, the job is Hicks’ to lose, for the time being, unless Cabrera has a fantastic spring that shows growth in the offensive department.
Last year, Cabrera put together 13 defensive runs saved across 44 regular season games, including nine in the outfield alone. Utilizing him as a super utility option may be the most preferable course of action, but allowing him to compete for a starting job will bring out all the best in everybody.
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In fact, reporters asked Cabrera about his position in 2023 and where he expects to play. He delivered a perfect answer that indicates his willingness to feature anywhere Boone sees fit.
“The position I prefer to play is the position that the manager wants me at that day to help the team win.”VIA SNY.
The Yankees know Oswaldo Cabrera offers great defense:
The question isn’t regarding Cabrera’s defensive qualities and his energy, it is more about what he can contribute as a hitter. Across 171 plate appearances last year, he hit .247 with a .312 OBP, six homers, and 19 RBIs. He posted a 25.7% strikeout rate and an 8.8% walk rate. His Steamer projections have him hitting .232 with a .293 OBP, down significantly from his numbers last season.
If he could even hover around a 32% on-base clip and hit double-digit homers with a .250 average, the Yankees would have a serviceable piece they can rely on. Those metrics would be better than Hicks’s 2022 season, so as long as they can get more value there and continue committing to their youth agenda, they can move forward feeling good about the situation.
Nonetheless, Oswaldo’s desire to help the team in any way possible certainly showcases his value to the clubhouse. He’s an exciting young player with plenty of untapped potential, it’s just a matter of giving him the necessary experience to extract every ounce of quality.