The New York Yankees are limping towards the finish line and a move before the waiver wire closes is necessary with the rash of injuries.
As the cliché goes, injuries are part of the game. Over the course of a 162-game MLB season, plus 60 or more days of spring training, it’s inevitable that players will go down. The teams that stay the healthiest are often the ones playing in October. With Didi Gregorius and now Aroldis Chapman as the latest key players to go down, the New York Yankees should make some moves to shore things up down the stretch.
Didi is on the 10-day DL with a bruised heel suffered in Sunday’s 10-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Chapman left Tuesday’s 2-1 win in Miami in the bottom of the 12th inning after throwing just six pitches. Again, it’s Chapman’s left knee tendinitis that is the problem. He’s soldiered through the pain most of this season without any stints on the DL although a rest looked needed earlier this year.
But even though manager Aaron Boone revealed that reliever David Robertson is dealing with some shoulder soreness, Chapman’s injury isn’t a huge concern. Zach Britton, who’s been pitching like Zach Britton of late (1 hit, 2 strikeouts in last three innings/appearances), appears ready to close. Also, top prospect Justus Sheffield has been moved to the bullpen for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which would seem like a precursor to the Yanks bringing him up for a bullpen stint.
While losing a vital cog like Didi is certainly a concern, Gleyber Torres has looked good at his natural shortstop position and Neil Walker, hitting .295 with an .854 OPS since the All-Star Break (going into Wednesday night), has smoothly slotted in at 2B. Ronald Torreyes can spell either Torres, Walker or Andujar if necessary and recently recalled Luke Voit can take reps from the struggling Greg Bird. No, infield depth is not the problem for now.
The Yanks certainly miss a healthy 2017 version of Gary Sanchez behind the plate. But Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka have handled the pitching staff well and have provided some offense. Sanchez is due to play in some minor league games in the next few days and should be back shortly thereafter.
The top priority is in the outfield, with its enormous, gaping hole in RF. The Yankees overly optimistic timetable (three weeks) for Aaron Judge has proven to be just that—overly optimistic. Judge’s wrist pain remains since he fractured his left wrist on July 26 and he has yet to swing a bat. Suffice it to say the Yankees will not rush Judge back. Wrist injuries are tricky so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Judge may not return until mid to late September, if at all.
Adding to the OF woes is Giancarlo Stanton’s recent hamstring issue, which has relegated him to DH duties, for the most part. This would be the perfect time to bring up Clint Frazier for an extended gig in the OF. Unfortunately, Frazier is still recovering from a second concussion and is not ready to fully resume baseball activities. Journeyman Shane Robinson has been adequate defensively but is only hitting a paltry .114 in 35 ABs.
The Yankees must plug the hole in the outfield as best they can. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Brian Cashman has recently stated, “We have claimed a lot of guys, but we have not been eligible on anybody.” Which means that because of their record putting them at the end of the waiver wire line, the Yankees have missed out—like Daniel Murphy being claimed by the Chicago Cubs before the Yanks had a chance to even consider him. Players like Kansas City’s Lucas Duda, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, Toronto’s Curtis Granderson and Minnesota’s Logan Forsythe have all cleared waivers.
As much as the Yankees know and like Granderson, who hit 40-plus HRs twice in his previous stint as a Yankee, Jones offers more at this point in their respective careers. However, Jones appears to want to stay in Baltimore—reportedly leveraging his 10/5 rights to veto a trade to the Phillies prior to the July 31 deadline. And who knows what the O’s would want from their AL East rivals in return.
The other possibility is San Francisco’s Andrew McCutchen who’s recently been placed on revocable trade waivers. Both Jones and McCutchen are free agents in 2019 and are owed approximately $4 million for the remainder of 2018.
Unless they are working something behind the scenes, The Yankees should make a play for either Jones or McCutchen. The absence of Judge, Sanchez and now Gregorius for any further time down the stretch could spell doom for the Yankees. Make a move.