Yankees Rumors: Cashman is running out of cash, surprise youngster could get crack at left field job

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial
Jul 20, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Estevan Florial (90) reacts after hitting a home run during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees made a few luxurious signings this off-season, headlined by the nine-year, $362 million deal they presented to Aaron Judge. They want one step further, securing Carlos Rodon on a six-year, $162 million deal. It is clear that ownership put their money where their mouth is, but they don’t have the necessary funds to keep spending, filling the left-field position with a pricey player.

In fact, the Yankees passed on Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto, preferring to stick with their young guns at a cheaper price point instead of spending egregiously. They could still look to acquire a starter via trade like Max Kepler or Bryan Reynolds, but Brian Cashman isn’t keen on sending away his top prospects after waiting years to see what they can contribute to at the MLB level.

The Yankees would like to stay under the third luxury tax threshold, meaning $293 million is their ceiling. Staying below that is essential, and unless they can find a suitor for Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks, they will have to play the next few months out in a conservative fashion.

They want to stay below the $293M “Steve Cohen tax” threshold (they are at $290M), and aren’t opposed to giving Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial a shot. 

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

The Yankees are gearing up to give Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial a crack at the LF job:

Given they’d like to keep their expenses down moving forward, rolling with Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial in left field could be the alternative. Cabrera makes a ton of sense, but the team would prefer to have him in a super-utility role where he can play several infield and outfield positions if need be.

The 23-year-old enjoyed 13 defensive runs saved above average at multiple positions last season, hitting .247 with a 31.2% on-base rate. As a switch hitter, the Yankees are hopeful that Cabrera can continue to build on his exciting rookie season, enjoying just 44 games.

At 25 years old, Florial has struggled to make the transition to Major League Baseball. He’s made appearances with the Yankees in three different seasons, playing in 17 games last year, hitting .097 with a 20% on-base rate. His elevated strikeout rate makes it incredibly difficult to transition successfully. In addition, he boasts poor whiff and chase rates, making him a liability in the batter’s box.

It is odd, considering Florial hit .283 with a 37% on-base rate, 15 homers, and 46 RBIs with AAA Scranton last year. He also contributed 39 stolen bases but did host a 30.4% strikeout rate and 11.7% walk rate. If he can get that strikeout rate down significantly, there’s no question his tools translate incredibly well to the Major League level, but he’s hitting a major roadblock every time he gets an opportunity.

Nonetheless, it seems as if management is keen on giving him another chance to prove his worth alongside Cabrera. They do have Aaron Hicks still on the roster, but he’s no longer a suitable start at this point in his career, coming off years of poor play. Finding a way to offload the remaining $30 million of his deal or at least a portion of his contract would be an ideal scenario, but it is easier said than done, given his lackluster value.