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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag: Bader, Dominguez, And 3rd Base!

I have said since the Yankees' April struggles that I really wanted to see where the team stood in June before I started making any grand assessments of what this team, as currently assembled, really is. Well, it's officially June, so we might as well take stock of what's happening in the big picture. As of June 2nd, the Yankees have a .586 winning percentage, are 6 games back of the Rays (who after a scorching hot start have come back to Earth, as I expected) in the AL East standings, have the 6th best run differential in baseball (and are neck-and-neck with 4 of the teams ahead of them), an offense with a 101 OPS+ (roughly average), and the 4th best pitching staff in the AL by ERA. The team's outfield defense has been among the best in baseball, though Harrison Bader's recent injury puts a dent in that status, and the infield defense has been solid. The inconsistent offense is getting reinforcements this weekend as is the overworked bullpen, as Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, and Tommy Kahnle return to face the Dodgers. The partial youth movement has seen mixed results, as Anthony Volpe has shown flashes of being the superstar many hope he will be, but also the inconsistency on both sides of the ball that one would expect of a rookie with very little experience at AAA; Oswaldo Cabrera has floundered at the plate despite his energy, defense, and heads-up baserunning; and the Yankees have patched the pitching staff as-needed with kids like Jhony Brito, Clarke Schmidt, and Randy Vasquez with mixed, but positive overall results.

So where are the Yankees? Without an injection of talent, either from the upper minors (where multiple top prospects are putting together very good seasons) or the trade market, this is not a championship roster without a lot of luck on the injury front. However, I think supplementation is coming on both fronts before the end of the year. My pre-season assessment stands: the team we saw in April will not be the team we see in September/October. That's what Brian Cashman is banking on. That's an incredibly risky play, and Yankee fans are restless to finally see a winner. That doesn't mean it can't happen, though. You might notice a theme in the Mailbag today. Much as my tendency is to be conservative with prospects and their development, I think certain guys are showing that they can be pushed a bit more, and that could pay dividends in 2023. Those prospects are the key to the Yankees possibly winning a championship in 2023 and beyond.

As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll discuss Harrison Bader's future, Jasson Dominguez's development plan, and what is going on at 3rd base! Let's get at it:

Fuster asks: Is he a key piece to the puzzle this season? Definitely.

break out the crystal ball and tell us about next year and the year after that

is Bader a keeper?

is he worth significantly more than the $5mil he's getting

even if his offense remains only average?

Fuster's question is in response to something I wrote about Harrison Bader in last week's Mailbag. Harrison Bader's season has been a microcosm of what has his proponents so excited and his detractors so concerned. When on the field, Bader has been the best defensive centerfielder in baseball, and it isn't particularly close. In my lifetime, the only centerfielder I saw pick it like Bader out there was a very young Andruw Jones, but I think Bader is better. I also thought that Bader would be an above-average offensive contributor (as I wrote just following the trade) in the aggregate because: 1.) Yankee Stadium is uniquely suited to enhancing Bader's power output on long fly balls to right-center, 2.) Bader had been a consistently above-average offensive threat in 2020 and 2021, and 3.) The new rules that have increased base-stealing would allow Bader to use his legs more when he got on-base. All of that has been true!!! Bader has been worth 1.2 bWAR (!!!) in just 95 plate appearances this season with 6 homers and 6 steals. That's incredible!

I also will tip my own cap: I was the only person who predicted Bader's playoff performance due to the increase in fastballs over 95 MPH. Bader is one of the best performers in baseball against fastballs over 95 MPH, and I expect him to continue to be a playoff weapon (maybe not Superman like last year, but a very good one). All of this makes Bader very valuable.

Unfortunately, we've also seen soft tissue injuries take away a ton of games. Bader missed the first month and change of the season with an oblique strain, and now he is likely to miss at least 3 weeks with a hamstring strain. It is impossible to expect Bader to not wind up on the IL again at some point. It is sad, but true. I said that I thought Bader would be a 5 WAR player if he gets to 450 plate appearances. It's going to be very hard for him to hit that number this year, even if his performance has been right on the rate I predicted. To answer Fuster's second question, yes, Bader is worth significantly more than the $5 million he's making.

Should the Yankees extend Bader? For sure, he's very valuable even if he misses significant time. However, the Yankees as currently constituted do not have the depth to maintain Bader as the primary option in CF without a really solid backup option. The Yankees have played most of this season at least one good outfielder short of a championship roster. If the Yankees kept Bader past this season, you could argue that they need at least 2 more solid-average MLB players, one of whom can spend significant time in CF when Bader is hurt.

Might the answer be in the Yankee minor league system? I am bullish on Jasson Dominguez (more on him in a minute), and I believe that he will both be an option at the MLB level in 2024 and be capable of playing CF. I am more bearish on Everson Pereira than most, but he does have a feel for putting the bat head on the ball and making hard contact, so maybe I'm incorrect in my hesitance. Both could be good MLB players in 2024, and allow the Yankees to re-sign someone like Harrison Bader, but it will really depend on how Bader's market develops. I have a hunch that someone will be willing to ignore his injury history and give him a 5+ year deal, which is sadly a non-starter for me.

Fuster also asks: I'm looking at something that has Dominguez's stats at AA this season

and it shows him to have a BA of ~.200 and an OBP of ~.370

after 131 PAs, he has 36 BBs and 41 Ks,

suggesting that he's being pitched around

add his 20 non-HR hits to those 36 walks for 56 times on base and note that he has 14 stolen bases

it makes me wonder whether he going to get a full share of development time in Double A if they're not challenging him

will the Yankees move him up to Triple A in hope of increasing the challenge or is the low BA likely to preclude that?

That has actually been a huge issue so far this season. Pitchers have been pitching around Dominguez this season. Early in the year, in his quest to prove to the Yankees he could handle a promotion, Dominguez was stretching the zone, hence the high K rate and low batting average. He has since been far more patient, and the results have been excellent. Dominguez's K rate has not been of concern in recent weeks, he takes his walks, and makes gobs of hard contact while proving to be a threat on the basepaths. I think the Yankees realize exactly what was going on, but they were smart to force Dominguez to make the adjustment and prove that he could make contact at AA even with pitchers gameplanning around him.

Now that Dominguez is proving he can do that consistently, I do think that the Yankees will promote him to AAA in short order, and barring any changes, I think he'll find himself playing in front of the Scranton crowd any week now. If there was any question about the Yankees' plans for Dominguez, look no further than his defensive starts: he's split his games almost evenly between LF and CF. I think the Yankees clearly are hoping that Dominguez is a factor later this year.

Ben asks: What should the Yankees do about 3B? DJ looks really bad (is he banged up?), I expect nothing from Donaldson..

This has really flown under the radar in recent weeks. I too am beginning to wonder if DJLM is banged up, because he's always hit when healthy...and looked exactly like this when he's played through an injury. Under these circumstances, it's sad to say, but I think Donaldson is actually an upgrade over DJLM, with slightly below-average offense and plus defense.

That said, I am shocked the Yankees didn't think about having one of the kids play more at 3B in the minors. Oswald Peraza has raked down at AAA (though his plate discipline stats are scary), yet he's only played one AAA game at 3B. To me, that is a complete missed opportunity.

The Yankees came into the season short in LF; I think 3B is becoming a problem that is almost as bad.


Jun 02, 2023

first off- thx, Andy.

Bader will soon be 29 and probably should not get a 5 year deal. the guy is great for 100 games/season

and the Yankees have outfield prospects ripening down on the farm.

given my druthers, I'm signing Harrison to a 3-year deal and putting Dominguez in left

Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jun 03, 2023
Replying to

Wait, wait, wait -- let me wrap my mind around this: The length and value of Bader's next contract will depend on "the quality and quantity of his performance in 2023"? HFS! My mind is BLOWN. It never, ever occurred to me that a potential free agent's value on the market might possibly depend on his performance in the previously completed season! 😁


Jun 02, 2023

Just a few comments … Yankees will have difficult time resigning Bader…. length of contract and $$$ will work against Yankees so rather than losing him they should trade him. The Martian needs to be in AAA the sooner the better he seems to play to his competition. DJLM will not age well and as his body breaks down so will his production…. last year was the beginning and trend continues.

Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Jun 03, 2023
Replying to

In a vacuum, Bader should be signed - but we're talking about the constantly injury ravaged Yankees here. Hard Pass! The Yankees have a boatload of often injured key players. Something's got to give. Somebody somwhere has to realize that signing too many players with significant injury risks attached is simply not a blueprint for success. I like Bader as a player, but he's not a viable solution on such a team as the Yankees under Cashman have become.

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