The Yankees are about to face another outfield dilemma


Brett Gardner is the latest member of the Yankees outfield to go down with an injury, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to have to join Giancarlo Stanton and Cameron Maybin on the IL. Gardy has now missed the last three games with a sore left knee and is considered day-to-day.

Coming into the season Gardner wasn’t expected to play nearly as often as he so far but because every member of the Yankees projected starting outfield has been on the IL he’s had to. Even Clint Frazier and the aforementioned Maybin have gone down with injuries which is why Gardy has had to play in 92 of the Yankees first 100 games.

The longest-tenured Yankee on the roster has had a resurgent campaign after a down year in 2018, but the wear and tear of the season seems to finally be catching up to him. Fortunately for the Yanks, he should be back later this week after a couple of days of rest according to Aaron Boone and with the red hot Mike Tauchman filling in for him he hasn’t really been missed.

Tauchman is the only other Yankees outfielder who hasn’t gone on the IL this season and now that he’s getting consistent at-bats he’s starting to thrive. He’s hitting .500 in July with 3 2B, 2 HR and 9 RBI and his defense at all three outfield positions has been outstanding.

Per Fangraphs, Tauchman ranks in the top 10 amongst AL outfielders in defensive runs saved with 7, despite only appearing in 49 games. Even when Gardner is healthy and ready to return to the lineup the Yankees should continue to ride the hot hand and play Tauchman a lot because over the past week he’s been their best player.

Now about that potential outfield logjam the Yanks are going to have to deal with in the coming days…

On Tuesday the team announced that Cameron Maybin would begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton. Maybin has been out for almost a month with a left calf strain but if all goes well he could be back in about a week. That is if the Yankees make room for him on the 25-man roster.

If Gardner does avoid the IL as expected than one way to clear up a roster spot for Maybin would be by sending down Tauchman since he still has options remaining. However, it’s hard to envision them doing so considering how well he’s played since his last call-up.

The Yanks ran into a similar situation in late June when Aaron Judge returned from the IL and they had to decide whether to keep Maybin or designate him for assignment. At the time Maybin was one of the hottest hitters in the lineup batting .314 with 5 HR and 14 RBI so the Yanks made the right decision to keep him and carry only 12 pitchers instead of their usual 13.

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Things ended up working themselves out because Maybin injured his calf the same night Judge returned which led to them going back to carrying 13 pitchers. This time around when Maybin returns they could go back to carrying 12 pitchers because Tauchman deserves to stay and I don’t see them DFA’ing Maybin.

Maybin was a spark plug on both sides of the ball before he got hurt the same way Tauchman has been in July. The Yankees are so deep that they don’t really need Maybin once he’s healthy but by no means should they just get rid of him because if they did another team would pick him up in an instant.

We’ll have to wait and see how things play out but if you look even further down the road the Yanks might have to make another tough decision when Giancarlo Stanton makes his eventual return. Stanton has been out since June 25th with a right knee sprain and hasn’t resumed baseball activities as of yet.

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At the time of his injury, the Yanks were hopeful he’d be back at some point in August which still might happen. Although for Maybin and Tauchman’s sake they might be better off bringing him back in September when rosters expand and they can carry as many outfielders from their 40-man roster as they want.