About the Off-Season: Welcome Back or Vamoose, Part Five
By Tim Kabel
November 9, 2022
Today, I will head into the outfield.
I already addressed Aaron Judge in a previous article. I stated that the Yankees absolutely, positively need to bring him back for multiple reasons.
Assuming that Judge will be the everyday right fielder, let's take a look at centerfield. Harrison Bader arrived at the trade deadline this year at the cost of Jordan Montgomery, which upset many people. Well, Bader recovered from his injury and was able to play a few games down the stretch of the season. In the playoffs, he led the team with five home runs, which was unexpected. It was the same number he hit all season. I don't envision him as a major home run hitter next season but, he has enough pop to make him dangerous. He's also an elite fielder, having won a Gold Glove. He has speed and is a very good base runner. He will turn 29 next season. Having him on the team allows Judge to play right field every day, avoiding the wear and tear of centerfield. Bader is also a major upgrade over Aaron Hicks. For at least next season, the Yankees have successfully addressed centerfield.
Verdict-Harrison Bader- Welcome Back
In left field, I would bring back Andrew Benintendi. He is a very solid fielder but more importantly, he is a left-handed hitter who makes contact, hits for a high average, and gets on base. If he plays a full season in Yankee Stadium, I expect his home run numbers to go up but, that really isn't his primary role. He will be 29 next year. So, if the Yankees sign him to a four- or five-year deal, that would not be outlandish. He would add diversity to the lineup and lengthen it as well.
Verdict- Andrew Benintendi- Welcome Back
Although Giancarlo Stanton is technically listed as an outfielder, I would limit his use to designated hitter. Because there is such a high risk for him injuring his legs, I would not put him in a role that increases the stress on his body. There's simply no need to do it. The designated hitter is now used in every stadium. You won't have to worry about putting him in the field to get his bat in the lineup in National League stadiums. He will clearly be back next year and if he remains healthy, he can be a major force on this team. After all, he was an All-Star and actually was the All-Star Game MVP this year. Then, he was injured and put up a forgettable second half of the season.
Verdict- Giancarlo Stanton- Welcome Back
That brings us to the backups. Aaron Hicks serves no purpose on this team. He is not good enough to be a starter and based on last year's performance, I imagine he would sulk, pout, and make negative comments in a backup role. He would say that if he were playing everyday, he could hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases. He plans to gain more weight in the winter to make him more of a power hitter so, who knows what shape he'll be in when he arrives at camp. The Yankees need to find a way to trade Hicks for whatever they can get. Much like Josh Donaldson, getting Hicks off the roster will be a case of addition by subtraction.
Verdict- Aaron Hicks- Vamoose- Twice, if possible
Tim Locastro is a one-dimensional player who does not fit on this team. There will be enough speed in the lineup on a regular basis that he won't be needed. It is certainly not worth a roster spot to keep him around.
Verdict- Tim Locastro- Vamoose
I don't believe the Yankees view Estevan Florial as an everyday player. However, he is still young and could certainly fulfill the role as a backup. He can play all three outfield positions, and if they ever needed a pinch runner, he could do that. It's time to give him a shot in the major leagues, if only as a backup.
Verdict- Estevan Florial- Welcome Back
The Yankees always have the option of shifting Oswaldo Cabrera into a corner outfield spot once in a while to get DJ LeMahieu a game at third base. Cabrera gives them great versatility.
Now that I have crafted a roster, let me propose a lineup:
Oswald Peraza- SS
Andrew Benintendi- LF
Jose Trevino/ Ben Rortvedt-C
This lineup provides balance and spreads speed and athleticism from top to bottom. I doubt it's the lineup Aaron Boone will use but, I think it's a good one.
What do you think?