Somehow, I don’t think the timing of that examination and diagnosis was a happy accident.
Bruce was the obvious solution, and went from the open market to the Yankees’ starting first base job in a stunning 25th-hour reversal.
But just because it was obvious doesn’t mean it was the most fun possible conclusion to this sad injury story.
After all, the Yankees have a far more exciting first base option in their minor-league system who could’ve served as a high-ceiling alternative to Bruce’s high floor. They also could’ve used the short-term injury to explore a massive long-term upgrade they should’ve entertained this offseason anyway.
We’ll start within the minor-league pipeline, where a first baseman with the exit velocity of Giancarlo Stanton is just…wasting away. This was never going to be Chris Gittens’ big opportunity, but you can’t deny it would’ve been more exciting that way.
Yankees 1B Chris Gittens would’ve been an iconic replacement for Luke Voit.
Gittens, 27 years old, has never played above Double-A, and likely missed out on a chance to jump to Korea or Japan for big money by not having a minor-league season to play in last season.
So far this spring, the non-40-man first baseman has certainly proved he has a marketable skill, mixing swing-and-miss with not just power, but spectacular pop. As Kevin Goldstein said, from the scouting side of things, Gittens doesn’t just have plus power. He’s not just another guy who hit 23 homers with a .393 OBP in Trenton in 2019. He’s got the type of raw, underlying numbers that mimic the game’s brightest stars, just waiting to be unlocked.
This spring, he’s delivered whenever he’s gotten the chance, socking three homers, hitting .400, and opening plenty of eyes — perhaps in other organizations.
It would’ve taken the same 40-man machinations to add Gittens to the roster (perhaps the 60-Day IL stint for Clarke Schmidt), and we certainly trust Bruce more (especially defensively) in a small sample size. But you can’t deny Gittens has earned more playing time…somewhere, and it would’ve been quite exciting to try to catch lightning in a bottle here.
Of course…there is also a more high-profile option.
Voit will be back before June arrives (in a best-case scenario) so on the surface it wouldn’t make much sense to add Rangers multi-purpose star Joey Gallo.
But remember, these solutions are intended to be crazy.
More importantly, Mike Tauchman only made this roster nearly by default after the team spent all month gauging his trade value (and assessing him highly). Perhaps, in our dream scenario, the Voit injury could’ve been the impetus to push the Yankees over the edge, let Bruce walk, deal Tauchman for a controllable reliever or top-20 prospect, and try to spin a few excess high-level pitchers for Gallo, a Gold Glove winner in the outfield who could fill in at first during the season’s first two months.
Surely, the Rangers could be plied here, as they have no intention of competing. Among MLB’s lowest-tiered teams for the foreseeable future, Gallo will be wasting away in obscurity until someone else comes calling.
With a first base vacancy, the Yankees could’ve gone crazy and picked up the phone. Instead, they’re going with Bruce and Tauchman.