The Yankees can still sign these cheaper free agent outfielders after letting Kyle Schwarber go.
Spoiler Alert: All three spots on this list are going to be Socrates Brito!
Kidding, kidding. There are more outfielders out there.
Kyle Schwarber was always an imperfect fit for the 2021 New York Yankees, and that was being generous. In fact, the only reason we gave credence to the idea that they might sign him was Brian Cashman’s long-time fascination with the burly slugger — well, that and his booming bat.
But after Schwarber signed with Washington on Saturday for a sum total of $10 million guaranteed (along with an $11 million mutual option for 2022), it became very clear that the Yankees had never played in that end of the pool.
So, what happens now? The Yanks don’t have the roundest peg in Schwarber to shove into a square hole as a fourth outfielder in ’21, but they still don’t have a shored-up outfield picture for next season. Beyond Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman (and — LOL — Giancarlo Stanton), there’s no one in place — and you know the Yankees are going to prominently use a fifth name at some point.
Luckily, there are still plenty of fits available, and due to the stagnation we’ve experienced this offseason, plenty of them should still be on the market by the time DJ LeMahieu signs, whenever that is.
These three options could all be excellent bench additions in pinstripes.
3. Eddie Rosario
The Red Sox will probably get a steal in Eddie Rosario, but the Yankees could also just…do it.
Yankees fans know by now that “fourth outfielder” isn’t an insult in this team’s vernacular. The fourth (and fifth!) members of this team’s outfield rotation routinely play a majority of games, and though someone like Eddie Rosario can probably get assured a starting job elsewhere, he wouldn’t exactly be relegated to the sidelines in the Bronx, either.
At this point, we’ve basically accepted that the rest of baseball is going to let the Red Sox get a steal here by reuniting Alex Cora with his Team Puerto Rico WBC player, then justify it by denigrating his defense in the aftermath (he was worth -11.7 below the average defensively, per FanGraphs, in 2019).
But Rosario’s a spark plug and a pure hitter — he’ll likely thrive wherever he goes and help change the culture.
It’s an awkward fit in the Bronx, similar to the idea of Schwarber, though it certainly makes more sense. Rosario is an above-league-average hitter (117, 114, 103 and 110 wRC+ the past four years) and is a top-20 MVP finisher the past two seasons. The defensive liability (and base running issue) is real, but he’d probably be a more natural fourth outfield fit than the bombastic Schwarber.
This is a long shot, but if the Yankees are trying to soak up a lot of innings with their next addition, this would be an interesting piece.