Tyler Wade has been sent to the minors despite a strong spring training and has every right to be angry at the New York Yankees.
That’s a harsh statement, but it perfectly describes what happened Sunday. The speedy super-utilityman was all set to be New York’s fourth outfielder. He hit .320 with seven doubles in camp and looked more like the top prospect who debuted in 2017.
And right as the Yankees were announcing their Opening Day roster, the fourth outfielder was revealed to be … Mike Tauchman!
For context, Tauchman was acquired from the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Philip Diehl on Saturday. He hit a paltry .196 in Spring Training and has a .153 lifetime batting average in 69 major league plate appearances.
Per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Wade “went off” on the decision:
“It kind of blindsided me. I was just trying to get ready because our center fielder (Aaron) Hicks … I don’t know when he’s coming back, so I was trying [to be] ready for whatever was thrown my way and then it happened,” said Wade, who received the news as soon as he arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field Sunday morning.
“I didn’t think it was a problem. Just the way that I performed this spring, I did everything they asked me to do. I played well. I made the adjustments offensively,” Wade said. “ Now it’s my defense that’s not good enough.”
Regardless of the reasons for the decision, the Yankees made a mistake. Tyler Wade deserves better and this move could prove damaging down the road.
Coming back from a lost season
This decision had to sting Tyler Wade in particular after his health robbed him of a strong 2018. He was named New York’s starting second baseman out of Spring Training last year but limped to a .085 batting average in April. He was then sent back to the minors, Gleyber Torres was called up, and the rest is history.
It was later learned Wade was dealing with the flu and lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time, thus his struggles. He made it back to the majors and hit his first home run on that level, and hit .255 at Triple-A. He looked better later on, but was still a far cry from the man who hit .310 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017.
2019 was supposed to be his comeback year, and the Yankees just pulled the rug out from under him.
Who is this Tauchman?
In the Yankees’ defense, this move could be strictly about outfield experience. Wade didn’t start playing the outfield regularly until last season, logging 253.1 innings across all three positions.
Mike Tauchman, on the other hand, is a career outfielder. He has 4,911.2 minor league innings across all three positions. Additionally, he hit .323 with 20 home runs and 81 RBI at Triple-A Albuquerque last season. In a Yankees lineup which features no shortage of power, he is arguably a better bat than the contact-hitting Tyler Wade.
And Wade has every right to be upset about this move. The 24-year-old has devoted his career to the Yankees and has proven himself valuable not only through contact hitting but versatility.
Think about it. Here is a player who has struggled mightily on the major league level, batting just .161 in 133 plate appearances. Knowing he needed to improve, he clearly worked hard in the offseason to show up to Spring Training in top form, and the numbers showed an improved hitter.
Nothing against Tauchman, but he hasn’t even been a Yankee for a week. He hasn’t been around long enough to become one of “the guys,” and management is still rolling with him just because of analytics?
I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong. Imagine training hard for The Hunger Games and breezing through the competition, only to trip at the finish line at the hands of the Gamemasters. Tyler Wade was all set to be a key contributor on the Yankees this year, at least early on, and management just took that away from him on a whim.
Analytics aside, baseball is like any other job and dues must be paid. Wade has paid his and then some, whereas Tauchman has yet to even receive an invoice.
The sad truth is analytics rule the game now and the Yankees invest heavily in them. Clearly, something in Tauchman’s fielding numbers makes him the better option while Aaron Hicks recovers from a bad back.
Tyler Wade, meanwhile, will now toil away in the minors as he endures yet another roadblock to a successful MLB career. Not only that, but what kind of message does this send to other Yankees prospects? No matter how hard they work, no matter how much they improve in an area, it’s all for naught if the front office’s numbers say differently.
The fact of the matter is Wade, despite limited major league experience, has earned the right to call himself a Yankee and this move practically takes it away from him. He deserves so much better than to be treated in this way. In the eyes of this writer, the decision to cut him is just plain wrong.
Cashman, make it right.