Yankees pinning 3 veteran outfielders against each other in outfield position battle

rafael ortega, yankees
Sep 11, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Rafael Ortega (66) hits an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have taken a rather conservative approach toward filling the vacant left field position. Management has already indicated that rolling with players currently on the roster is a likely possibility, but I wouldn’t rule out a potential trade before spring training starts in a few weeks.

While the Yankees haven’t made a big signing or trade to acquire left-fielder, general manager Brian Cashman has been adding minor-league talent to compete during the spring.

Three veteran outfielders the Yankees are hoping will compete for LF job:

 1.) Michael Hermosillo

Hermosillo is a 27-year-old outfielder who played for the Chicago Cubs last season. He featured in 31 games, hitting .115 with a 25% on-base rate and 27 wRC+. Hermosillo isn’t likely to make any significant noise at the Major League level, with his best season coming back in 2021 with Chicago. He hit three homers over 16 games, logging a 91 wRC+, but with such a small sample size, it’s not worth valuing those metrics much.

2.) Willie Calhoun 

The Yankees recently signed former top Rangers prospect Willie Calhoun to a contract, hoping to get the best out of him after a few down seasons.

Calhoun played just 22 games for the Rangers and San Francisco Giants last season, hitting a combined .135 with a 27.4% on-base rate. His best season came back in 2019 with Texas, launching 21 homers with 41 RBIs, including a 15.7% strikeout rate, a .269 average, and a 32.3% on-base rate with a 110 wRC+.

Considering Calhoun signed a minor-league deal with the Bombers, including a spring training invite, they are hoping to resurrect his career, especially since he’s only 28 years old and features a lefty bat with outfield experience.

3.) Rafael Ortega 

The best option of the three is Rafael Ortega, who the Bombers signed earlier this week. At 31 years old, Ortega played in 118 games last season for the Cubs, hitting .241 with a 33.1% on-base rate. He had his best season in 2021, posting a .291 average with a 36% on-base rate, 11 homers, and 33 RBIs with a 122 wRC+.

Defensively, he’s played 699.2 total innings in the field, recording a .976 fielding percentage. However, he hasn’t had anything worse than a perfect building percentage since 2018 in left.

Ortega has decent speed, stealing 12 bases last year. He’s capable of getting on base and hitting for contact and might even be able to offer some power with the short right porch in Yankee Stadium. He certainly has the best odds of making the roster, but he will have to have a strong camp to fend off his competitors.