From Brian Cashman self-leaking MLB-wide trade interest in his fourth outfielder to several late-winter strikes for Brett Gardner, Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich, it appears clear the team might be trying to cash this chip in instead of waiting around for a bounce back.
The 30-year-old’s barreled home run in Sunday’s spring opener couldn’t have come at a better time for either party, an emphatic statement that he had shrugged off the shoulder injury he admitted to harboring last season.
It may seem short-sighted to clear out four years of control for a player who piled up nearly 4.0 WAR in 2019 just because of Brett Gardner’s farewell tour. In fact, we’d agree.
What’s going to happen with Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman?
But the tea leaves from up and down the organizational ladder seem to be spelling out Tauchman’s pre-Opening Day departure.
The latest hint was an under-the-radar move on Monday night.
Somehow, the Yankees convinced the rest of MLB to let 28-year-old outfielder Greg Allen fall back onto their Triple-A roster, and he’ll serve as extremely necessary minor-league depth in 2021, whether or not Tauchman stays.
If that doesn’t feel like a cushion for the Sock Man’s departure, though…
Letting Tauchman loose — paired, perhaps, with another 40-man player running out of chances like Albert Abreu — wouldn’t happen because of Allen’s retention. It would certainly seem, at first blush, like the team prioritized an older clubhouse leader without a future over a controllable potential plus asset without much backing behind the decision.
But just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean the wheels aren’t in motion. Allen’s unexpectedly cushioned fall onto the Scranton roster only confirms our suspicions, as foolhardy as we believe the move to be.
Why would the Yankees be working hard to let Mike Tauchman go?
No, it’s not just because a four-man bench featuring both Gardner and Tauchman, surrounded by Tyler Wade and Kyle Higashioka, feels a little redundant and punchless.
It’s also to give a roster spot to a more versatile and beloved player like Derek Dietrich.
If Dietrich had entered this simulation unfettered by Tauchman’s presence, he’d be the talk of Yankees camp. From his propensity to get drilled with baseballs in the back to his low-hanging chains and ridiculous biceps, he’s the type of character to draw your attention from the outset.
But with Tauchman on the roster, there’s no place for Dietrich. And it didn’t take much time on Monday to realize the Yankees have focused on adding him to their roster for quite a while.
“Conversations in years past,” eh?
Dietrich can back up first, second and third in a season where Gio Urshela is coming off elbow surgery. He can play the same corner outfield spots as Tauchman, leaving center field bare … until you factor Allen in.
He’s also a long-time Yankees target, in secret, who will be squeezed off a jam-packed roster unless the team finds Tauchman a new home.
This seems like the kind of move they’ll immediately regret, but if Dietrich makes his presence known by punishing the short porch and lengthening the lineup, concerns will quickly fade away. As with all things Yankees, one ring with Dietrich leading his merry band of bros Nick Swisher-style and those players sacrificed along the way will be immediately forgotten.
Who’d have thought Greg Allen would be the linchpin here?