Yankees: Why Tyler Austin could be back at Triple-A for the long haul

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Tyler Austin
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Tyler Austin /

Following Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Rays, the inevitable happened when the Yankees decided to send Tyler Austin back to Triple-A. The move was made to open up a roster spot for Friday night’s starter Jonathan Loaisiga who will make his big league debut.

Once Greg Bird returned to the Yankees lineup it always seemed like Austin’s days on the big league roster were numbered. The Yankees don’t need three first basemen on the 25-man roster and with Neil Walker’s ability to play multiple positions outside of first base it made sense that Austin would be the odd man out at some point.

Not that he deserved it, but Austin still had an option left to be sent back to the minors and the Yankees had to call up someone to take Masahiro Tanaka’s spot in the rotation. Loaisiga will get his first big league opportunity tonight and may be able to extend his stay with the Yankees if he can give the team a quality start.

As for Austin, there’s no telling when we might see him back in the Bronx. Unfortunately for him, there’s a couple of things working against him that could keep him down at Triple-A for quite some time.

The first is the Yankees overcrowded 25-man roster which has already forced many talented players back to the minors simply because there isn’t enough room to keep everyone. We saw it happen with Ronald Torreyes a couple weeks ago and it’s the same reason why Clint Frazier and Brandon Drury haven’t been called up themselves.

Now that Austin has lost his spot to Walker as Greg Bird’s backup there’s no need for the Yankees to keep him on the roster. Yes, he’s the better platoon option against lefties, but Walker’s roster spot is safe and the Yankees aren’t going to cut him. The only other way Walker could lose his roster spot is through a trade and at this point in his career I don’t think any team is really interested in acquiring him.

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Austin could find his way back on the roster if Walker or the oft-injured Bird went on the DL, but he might not be the first option. That call-up could go to Drury instead. He’s raking at Scranton (.328 AVG) and lately, he’s been taking reps at first base.

Neither Austin or Drury deserves to be down at Triple-A but Drury has done everything asked of him since his injury and if he can play an adequate first base he might be the better option because of his bat.

The only reason Drury is still in the minor leagues in the first place is due to his early season migraine issues combined with the fact that Miguel Andujar has played like an All-Star in his place. Austin, on the other hand, started out hot in April, but since then he’s struggled mightily and because of that, he’s become replaceable.

Over his last 38 at-bats, he’s hit .184 with two home runs and 19 strikeouts. That’s a 50% strikeout rate and his rate for the season isn’t much better at 44%. That kind of percentage just won’t cut it at the big league level and that’s probably part of what made it a rather easy choice to send him down. It’s also why the more polished hitting Drury is likely first in line for a future call-up.

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Austin could always find his way back as a September call-up but still, right now it doesn’t look like he’ll have a chance to make much of an impact at the big league level for the rest of this season. He also might not even be with the Yankees by September if management can deal him in a trade for another starting pitcher.

It’s a shame because like Drury, Frazier and many more currently on the Triple-A roster Austin deserves better than this. Their all big league talents, but the Yankees are simply too stacked across with position players across their roster.

Because of this, someone like Austin is probably better off playing for another team. Hopefully, he gets that opportunity down the road to really prove himself in an everyday role.