At some point during next week’s homestand, there’s a good chance both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton make their returns from the IL. Finally getting them back is huge for the Yankees but it also means they’re going to have some difficult decisions to make room for them on the 25-man roster.
During his pregame media session on Thursday Yankees manager, Aaron Boone announced that Stanton could be activated as early as Tuesday if all goes well with Triple-A Scranton this weekend. Stanton has gotten off to great start during his rehab stint hitting three home runs in just two games with the Tampa Tarpons. On Friday he’ll join Scranton in Durham before hopefully rejoining the Yankees in New York next week.
As for Judge, he’s expected to join Stanton and the Railriders but his rehab assignment is probably going to be a little longer since he hasn’t played in any games yet. He’s been out since April 20th with what was described at the time by Boone as a “pretty significant” left oblique strain. It’s taken Stanton more time to return after he went on the IL all the way back on April 1st but in Judge’s case, he hasn’t had any setbacks and seems to be on track to return earlier than expected.
If Stanton comes back on Tuesday the Yankees are going to have to make a roster move to clear a spot for him. Before Kendry Morales went on the IL with a calf strain on Thursday he was probably in danger of being the odd man out and getting designated for assignment to make room. Morales had been getting the bulk of the at-bats at DH since his acquisition on May 14th but he’s really struggled so there’s no reason to keep him around once Stanton comes back. Now that he’s on the IL the move will probably be to send down Mike Tauchman. He was just called up to take Morales’ spot on the roster but his stay figures to be a short one.
The injury to Morales makes the decision to send Tauchman back down for Stanton an easy one but eventually, the Yanks are going to have to clear up another roster spot for Judge. That’s where things get tricky.
Unfortunately, it looks like Brian Cashman and company are going to have to make the very tough decision of choosing between Clint Frazier and Cameron Maybin. Neither one deserves to lose their roster spot at all but it’s hard to imagine the Yankees keeping six outfielders once Judge returns.
Of course, if Frazier was the move the Yanks could just send him back to Triple-A because he still has options. However, in the case of the 32-year-old Maybin, they would have to designate him for assignment.
Now once Judge and Stanton are back regular at-bats are going to be hard to come by for Brett Gardner and whoever they choose to keep between Frazier and Maybin. There’s just not a realistic route for them to play on a daily basis. As good as the Yankees have been without Judge and Stanton in the lineup and with Frazier and Maybin in their absence you know the two All-Stars are going to play just about every day, as they should.
So who will it be? First, let’s look at each player’s numbers up to this point:
Frazier: .287, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 51 H, 11 2B, .871 OPS, .394 BA W/RISP
Maybin: .274 AVG, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 26 H, 2 2B, 5 SB, .730 OPS, .286 BA W/RISP
If I had to guess today I think the move will be to designate Maybin for assignment. It’s really a shame because he’s played such a pivotal role in the Yankees great play since coming to New York but I just don’t see them sending down Frazier after he’s played so well offensively.
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Maybin has been solid as well and he’s a much better defender but he doesn’t have the power Frazier does and the ability to change a game with one swing. Frazier is also the guy who potentially has a long term future with the Yanks and optioning him down would send a bad message.
The reason I use potentially is there’s a chance the Yankees include Frazier in a trade package to acquire a front line starting pitcher before the July 31st deadline. However, the odds of that happening before Judge returns is very slim. And even though Maybin is probably a better fit to be the fourth or fifth outfielder off the bench Frazier’s bat is too valuable to have down at Triple-A if they don’t plan on trading him just yet.
As happy as the Yankees will be to get Judge and Stanton back they have to be somewhat dreading the upcoming decision they’re going to have to make. It isn’t going to be an easy one but there’s just not enough room on the roster so it’s likely Maybin’s time in New York is running out.