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  • Tim Kabel

Is This The Answer in LF?

About the Off-Season: Is This The Answer?

By Tim Kabel

January 2, 2022


Brian Cashman has a history of signing or trading for unheralded, unknown, or faded players who then come to the Yankees and find some level of success. In the last few years, he acquired Matt Carpenter, Luke Voit, Rougned Odor, and Mike Tauchman. We saw what Carpenter did last year, revitalizing himself to the point where he signed a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres, with a player option for a second year. Luke Voit was the 2020 American League home run champion. Rougned Odor played over 100 games for the Yankees in 2021 and hit fifteen home runs. Mike Tauchman did not have a tremendous amount of success but, he was traded for Wandy Peralta, who became a key part of the Yankees' bullpen.

The question is, did Cashman do it again? The Yankees just signed Willie Calhoun to a minor league contract. This does not appear to be dramatic or earth-shattering news. Calhoun was released by the Rangers last year before signing with the San Francisco Giants. However, he is 28 years old, he was once one of the top prospects in the Texas Ranger system, and in 2019, he hit 21 home runs in just 83 games. After that, he did not play much and struggled offensively. Perhaps the Yankees can unlock something in him. After all, he did show tremendous potential and there definitely is talent somewhere in him.

If Calhoun comes to spring training and does not excel, there is no harm. The Yankees did not trade anyone for him. They signed him to a minor league contract. He is a left-handed hitter, who could conceivably take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. This is the type of low risk; high reward move Cashman is famous for.

I have been on record as writing that I like Oswaldo Cabrera a lot and would be perfectly content with him as the starting left fielder. However, I have also written that I think third base would be a much better position for him. If by chance, Willie Calhoun is able to regain the form he exhibited in the past, and the Yankees are able to unload Josh Donaldson, they could have a situation where Calhoun plays leftfield and Cabrera plays third base. Since Cabrera is a switch hitter, and Calhoun is left-handed, it would balance out the lineup as well.

Perhaps Oswaldo Cabrera wins the starting leftfielder's job, Donaldson is traded, and the Yankees will decide to play DJ LeMahieu at third base for the most part. In that scenario, Willie Calhoun could be the fourth outfielder.

Again, it's not as if they signed a superstar. They didn't. They signed a guy who is lucky to have a job. However, at some point not very long ago, he had success on the Major League level. It is possible that he could return to being that player. If he doesn't, then he can stay in the minors or go to another organization.

It is possible the Yankees will sign or trade for a leftfielder with more upside than Calhoun. In that case. Calhoun could become a backup or be released or traded. Regardless, this is the type of move that is hard to criticize. It is especially difficult to criticize it, when you consider how successful Brian Cashman has been with this type of move.

Happy New Year to all.

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