Yankees: Are Tyler Austin’s days on the big league roster numbered?
Tyler Austin survived the roster crunch when Greg Bird returned from injury but recently he’s been in the midst of a brutal 2-24 slump with 15 strikeouts. Is it time for the Yankees to bring back the reliable Ronald Torreyes and send Austin down to Triple-A?
This would be another tough decision for Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman to make but it’s one the Yankees should consider with Austin really struggling of late. It’s tough to break out of a bad stretch when you’re not playing every day and that’s been the case with Austin since Bird returned.
The same can be said for the veteran Neil Walker, but his roster spot is secure since he doesn’t have any options left and he can play second and third base in addition to first. Austin still provides value as a right-handed hitter with pop who can do damage against lefties, but with the lack of consistent at-bats, it’s been difficult for him to produce at the level he was earlier in the season.
Unlike Torreyes, Austin is a guy who probably needs to play more than once a week in order to be successful. He can’t just sit on the bench for five to six straight games and then be expected to come in and deliver big hits. That’s what Torreyes does so well and even though the Yankees would have a tough time finding him playing time behind Torres or Andujar he’s still a better fit on the current big league roster.
It’s unfortunate because Austin is one of many players on the Yankees bench or on Scranton Wilks-Barre who deserves to be on a big league roster. However, just like Torreyes, Clint Frazier, and Brandon Drury, they all have minor league options left so not everyone can be on the 25-man roster. As the trading deadline approaches some of these names could potentially be on the move, but until then I think the Yankees are better off sending Austin down and bringing Toe back up.
One of the reasons Austin might still be with the big league club is to showcase him to other teams in order to peak his trade value. Although, with the way he’s looked of late, the better way to build his value might be by sending him back to AAA so he can put up some big numbers down there.
Right now Austin looks overmatched at the plate with the strikeouts piling up at an extremely high rate. He’s got 52 K’s in only 116 at-bats this season so he’s striking out in 44% of his at-bats. I don’t care how productive he’s has been at times, striking out that often is unacceptable at the major league level.
Related Story: Ronald Torreyes deserved better than this
Torreyes is the better option off the bench and really he never deserved to be sent down in the first place. He was outstanding before his demotion hitting .339 while playing terrific defense everywhere he’s been put him in the infield.
He’s a spark plug each time he takes the field and a fast runner and versatile defender who could provide more value off the bench in the later innings. The Yankees lineup is stacked so there’s no need for pinch hitters late in games which means if Austin is on the bench he’s probably going to stay there the whole game. That’s not the case with Toe.
I still believe Austin has a bright future in the big leagues as a platoon guy at first base, but this could be his last weekend in the big leagues for a little bit.
Next: Why a Yankees trade for Jacob deGrom is not going to happen
He’ll likely get a start tomorrow night against Mets lefty Steven Matz and that could be his final opportunity to prove he belongs on the 25-man roster. I hope he has a big day and contributes to a win, but if he doesn’t and posts another 0-4 with three K’s a move should be made.