New York Yankees: How many outfielders will make the Opening Day roster?

New York Yankees Miguel Andujar smiles (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
New York Yankees Miguel Andujar smiles (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to suspend spring training, things were not looking good on the outfield front for the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge were both out with injuries and expected to miss the start of the season. Aaron Hicks was out as well after undergoing Tommy John surgery last October. 

Since the projected starting outfield was expected to miss what was supposed to be Opening Day on Thursday, the Yankees would have begun the year with Brett Gardner in center filling in for Hicks. Who was going to flank him in left and right field was still undecided.

It appears that Stanton and Judge could very well be ready for the beginning of the season now, should there be one at all. Stanton is reportedly healthy enough to play in rehab games right now while Judge’s fractured rib continues to heal. This year with MLB increasing the rosters from 25 to 26 players, it’s conceivable that two more outfielders could begin the season on the roster.

Assuming Stanton and Judge join Gardner on Opening Day, the final two roster spots could come down to three players.

Mike Tauchman

Tauchman played a big role in the outfield last year after being acquired on March 19 from the Colorado Rockies. He made the Opening Day roster and ended up playing in 87 games in the Bronx with a slash line of .277/.361/.504. He had 13 home runs and 47 RBI. He played 59 games in left and 19 in right.

He proved to be extremely valuable when Stanton went down with an injury in the opening series against Baltimore with an injured bicep and then struggled to stay healthy throughout the entire season. Then after Judge went to the IL with an oblique injury in April, there was plenty of playing time for Tauchman. Given his ability to playing all three outfield positions at a high level defensively, I would expect him to be a lock for the Opening Day roster.

Miguel Andujar

Andujar began last season at third base, but after getting injured diving back into third base in just he third game of the year, he spent a month on the IL. Returning to action May 5, he had three hits in 34 at-bats before deciding to have season-ending right shoulder labrum repair surgery in mid-May.

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That allowed Gio Ursehla to fill-in and he ended up having a career-year. With Urshela back in the fold at third base as the projected starter, Andujar spent the spring transitioning to left field and played some first base as well. Being versatile is a great attribute to have in today’s day and age where there are more utility players in the league than ever before. So whether it’s at third base, first base or the outfield, Miggy’s services would be needed.

There is too much potential in Andujar to start anywhere but with the Yankees. He finished second in 2018 in the American League rookie of the Year voting after a season with a slash line of .297/.328/.527. He had 27 home runs and 92 RBI with 47 doubles. There is too much of an offensive upside with Andujar not to be on the roster to open up the season.

Clint Frazier

That leaves Frazier as the odd man out again. While the offensive production has been there in spurts, the defense is extremely shaky enough to have him begin a shortened season in the minors. He was having a good spring training hitting over .300 before camp was closed. For Frazier to make the roster, it’s all about timing.

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The timing appears to be bad for him right now yet again. If the season had started on time, he would be at Camden Yard on Thursday. Instead, a later start means he’ll likely start the year at Scranton because more reinforcements are on their way back for the Yankees.