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  • E.J. Fagan

Harrison Bader's Injury Hurts

by EJ Fagan

March 12, 2023

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NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.

Please check out EJ's substack page for more great articles.

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Harrison Bader is out with an oblique strain. The best scenario right now looks like four to six weeks. Bader will miss April, at least.


Other than Judge, Bader is the last person on roster that the Yankees can afford to lose. The Yankees were already short an outfielder. Now they are not only short an outfielder, but his replacement needs to play center for an extended period of time. Bader is also really good, so the Yankees will lose elite defense and potentially strong offense for the beginning of the season.


Who will replace him? Barring a trade, I see four options:


Estevan Florial

Florial was ticketed for a DFA and trade. He doesn’t have any options, so he can’t go back to Triple-A without being exposed to waivers. While he hasn’t looked great in the Spring, his pedigree as a former top prospect and strong performance at Triple-A in 2022 are worth something. I suspect he will be the first person they look at to fill Bader’s role. They can always DFA him in May.


The flip side is that we’ve been here, done that. The Yankees needed an outfielder or two in August. Florial was available. They barely gave him a chance. The Yankees just don’t like the guy. Maybe they are right. Florial has a loopy swing that major league pitchers might be able to take advantage of. He hasn’t helped his case by batting .150 in Spring Training, but I suspect Florial will have some extra motivation over the next few weeks. He’s the default, either as a starting CF or 4th outfielder.


Aaron Judge or Aaron Hicks

Here we go again. The Yankees thought they had solved their center field problems when they traded for Bader. Then it turns out Bader’s foot injury held him out for most of the rest of the regular season. So, let’s try one of these guys again.


I think if he’s healthy, the Yankees go for Hicks first. He’s faster than Judge. If he’s going to hit well enough to play left, he’ll hit well enough to play center. I sense that the Yankees really don’t want to play Judge in center for any extended period of time again, even if the big guy would love to.


The real question here is who takes over a corner spot if Hicks or Judge end up in center. Giancarlo Stanton could play a lot of right field, allowing the Yankees to delay resolving some of their infield problems via the DH spot. Similarly, Oswaldo Cabrera could become a full-time outfielder again.


In this scenario, I’d bet on Rafael Ortega making the team. Ortega was always a curiously able minor league signing. He would make a strong left-handed side of a platoon with Hicks or Cabrera. He could even play center without embarrassing anyone, although he’s only about an average corner outfielder. Like Florial, the Yankees probably can’t stash him at Triple-A thanks to an opt-out clause.


The dark horse pick is probably Willie Calhoun. He’s been getting a lot of time in Spring Training. Unlike all of the MLB guys on this list, he’s been hot, batting .421/.476/.632 with just two strikeouts in 21 appearances (9.5%). Unlike everyone on this list, he’s a terrible defender even in a corner. Maybe he pairs well with a Giancarlo Stanton right field as the new designated hitter against righties.


Jasson Dominguez

Why not?


Okay, there are a lot of good reasons not to push Dominguez to the major leagues right out of Spring Training. He barely has any experience at Double-A. He’s not on the 40-man roster. While he took huge steps forward last season, Dominguez has been a plus contact hitter for about four months. He’s probably not ready. He’s 20. Let’s not get cute.

On the other hand, Dominguez is one of the most talented prospects in the world. He looks like a major league player in Spring Training.


I don’t it’s that crazy to expect Dominguez to make quick, big leaps in his development. Maybe we’re seeing a player who is ready for the majors.


Michael Hermosillo

I know, I know. I just fell asleep too. His career OPS is .550. His strong Triple-A numbers have never really translated to the majors. But Hermosillo has a few things going for him:

  • He is available

  • He is expendable

  • He has played center in the majors well

I guess that’s enough? Unlike Florial, I think the Yankees expected Hermosillo to start the season as depth at Triple-A. He has no options, but isn’t yet on the 40-man roster. If they need to send him down, they probably don’t have to worry about him being claimed on waivers. If he’s claimed on waivers, they can probably find some other Quad-A guy to fill his spot.


My Prediction:

I think Hicks and Judge spend time in center, with Ortega making the major league roster out of Spring Training. The Yankees just don’t like Florial. They aren’t going to call up Dominguez prematurely. Hurry back, Harrison.

3 comentários


Alan B.
Alan B.
12 de mar. de 2023

For whatever the reason, Cashman has decided to never give Florial a real chance up here. Playing him 3 games in a row then banishing him to the bench or back to the minors is just flat-out negligent on his part. Due to injuries (forget about awful play) in both 2021 & 2022, but he was allowed to rot away at AAA. Oh, and he was already on the 40 man, so what's his excuse? Id like to see Florial in CF for all games that have Stanton or Judge as the DH or off day, along with jumping Dominguez up to AAA to start the season.

Curtir
Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
13 de mar. de 2023
Respondendo a

You are correct Alan. He was never given a chance.

Curtir
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