With just a few weeks before the start of the 2023 MLB season, the Yankees have some decisions to make regarding its outfield. New York will need to figure out which players to carry on its roster, plus decide on who will get regular playing time outside of Aaron Judge and OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton. For right now, it looks like two familiar faces from 2022 are set to be play a big role for the Yankees to begin the season.
A Look at Spring Training for the Yankees
The past couple of weeks have not been too kind for the Yankees. New York lost a number of pitchers to start the season, as well as Harrison Bader. Bader, acquired from the Cardinals last summer for Jordan Montgomery, will miss the start of the 2023 season due to an oblique injury.
That, coupled with questions about who would log regular time in left, lead to a rather uncertain outfield situation as the Yanks head into the regular season.
We’ll start with the two mainstays in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both Judge (.421 BA, five XBH in 19 AB) and Stanton (.227 BA, one XBH in 22 AB) have been healthy and played regularly, a major positive heading into the 2023 season. Then, there’s the rest of the pack (all stats as of March 17):
- Oswaldo Cabrera: .250/.333/.500, four XBH and eight RBI in 32 AB
- Willie Calhoun: .370/.485/.519, two XBH and three RBI in 27 AB
- Estevan Florial: .182/.270/.303, two XBH and six RBI in 33 AB
- Aaron Hicks: .276/.323/.414, two XBH and one RBI in 29 AB
- Rafael Ortega: .174/.367/.565, four XBH and five RBIs in 23 AB
No one, outside of former Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun, has had a terrific spring. But, it does look like the Yankees do have two names that will join Judge and Stanton in The Bronx.
Right now, it seems like Cabrera and Hicks have the inside edge to accumulate regular playing time to start the 2023 campaign. No, Spring Training stats don’t mean a lot in the grand scheme of things — but a good showing can put a player on the edge of a roster spot or a regular role get the nod come late March.
Oswaldo Cabrera showed a lot of flair and defensive prowess late last year, and he’s held his own thus far at the plate. And as for Hicks, the Yankees need him to be a reliable hitter at the plate and good enough in the field to make up for the loss of Bader.
The Yankees will need to make a major decision this spring on Estevan Florial. The former top prospect does not have any options left, which means the Yanks need to decide whether to roster him or determine whether to outright or find a new home for the outfielder.
Given the struggles of both Florial and Ortega, it does make some sense to see whether Isiah Kiner-Falefa can play the outfield in a pinch. Kiner-Falefa did play his first game in the outfield on March 17 against Detroit, just a little under two weeks before Opening Day. While it might not be ideal, the IKF experiment does give the Yanks some options.
One player that won’t be an option for the Yankees, though, is OF Jasson Dominguez. While “The Martian” did have a good spring, the youngster will head down to presumably AA to fine-tune his skills. The star prospect, however, could be an option for the Yankees at some point later in 2023.