Yankees: Mike Tauchman comments will have you betting on bounce back
When the Yankees acquired Mike Tauchman at the tail end of spring training in 2019, it raised roster alarm bells.
Who was this guy? We had to give up an asset to acquire a 4-A guy now? We’ve got to carry him on the roster and send someone who believes they’re making the big club to the minors. Was this all worth it?
After the 2019 season, every Yankee fan, executive and hanger-on would’ve given an unequivocal “yes”.
But one calendar year later, and the picture’s been muddied to the point where Tauchman might find himself to be the last-second exile before Opening Day.
Funny how the world turns, huh?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hasty to judge Tauchman, though, who appeared to be developing early-onset Greg Bird Disease in 2020, often late on center-cut fastballs to the tune of a moribund .242/.342/.305 triple slash — yes, you read that right. No pop at all.
According to the fourth outfielder, he was actually battling a shoulder issue throughout the entirety of last season, but true to form, he had no interest in joining the list of the walking wounded.
That makes a lot more sense.
Even if Tauchman never again reaches his heights from 2019, when he was somehow a 3.8-WAR player (1.6 dWAR) as a part-time player, he’s still a valuable commodity and consummate grinder if he’s able to somewhat split the difference in 2021.
Of course, this “bounce back” we’re speaking of might not occur in New York.
Ken Rosenthal became the latest to speculate about Tauchman being the odd man out following the Brett Gardner signing in his latest notes column. The outfielder has no options remaining, and he’s competing with powerful MLB veterans like the versatile Derek Dietrich and Jay Bruce, who’s a career-long backup first baseman candidate.
Tauchman volunteered himself on Saturday that he hasn’t played first base since college, but would be open to it, even though the team reportedly hasn’t broached the subject with him (which doesn’t seem like a good sign for its likelihood).
Any fan who watched both the 2019 and 2020 versions of Tauchman knew something must be wrong with him, either physically or mentally, in the shortened season we just watched.
While it’s reassuring to know he was more damaged than he was letting on, it might not be enough to save his job in the Bronx, which might lead to Yankees fans watching him bounce back in another uniform.