Yankees Release Veteran Outfielder Eric Young Jr.


The New York Yankees announced Thursday that outfielder Eric Young Jr. has chosen to become a free agent rather than accept a minor league assignment.

The New York Yankees continued their fall clean out of the 40-man roster by releasing speedy outfielder Eric Young Jr. The team acquired Young from the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations the day before rosters expanded this year.

Young was primarily used as a pinch runner, but didn’t have much opportunity to show off his wheels. He was successful in his lone stolen base attempt for New York. All told, he appeared in six contests, failed to get a hit in his only plate appearances, but did score two runs in key situations.

The 31-year-old played for three MLB clubs in 2016, putting up a combined .153/.217/.247 batting line in 94 plate appearances. He spent most of the year playing for Milwaukee’s PCL affiliate in Colorado Springs, where he managed a slightly better .263/.338/.339 slash in 329 PA.

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Young has never been much of a threat at the plate, but his production even in the minors has fallen below acceptable levels this year. At this point his speed is his only marketable skill.

On the other hand, Young was a useful utility option as recently as 2014. He should be able to land a roster spot with another team’s Triple-A club in 2017 if he wants to pursue one. Young probably realized that the Yankees plethora of outfielders meant that this wasn’t the best situation for him going forward.

With Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams, Clint Frazier, Jake Cave, Cesar Puello, and Dustin Fowler already fighting for playing time, it is hard to imagine Young cracking the Scranton Wilkes-Barre roster in 2017, let alone the Yankees big league roster.

Next: Yankees Could Look to Arizona for Pitching Help

Releasing Young is the fifth move the Yankees have made to open up a 40-man spot since the end of September. He joins J.R. Graham, Kirby Yates, Anthony Swarzak, and Blake Parker as the most recent ex-Bombers. None of these decisions have been particularly difficult, but with so many players to protect from the Rule 5 draft this winter, there may be some tougher calls coming up.