There’s an offensive spark waiting in the trees in Scranton who, thus far, the New York Yankees have simply ignored.
With at least two 40-man roster spots potentially open in the coming weeks, though, they have no excuse to continue looking the other way on slugging first baseman Chris Gittens.
Earlier in the campaign, when the Yankees’ sole concern at first base was, “Why is Jay Bruce still manning the position while we wait a few weeks for Luke Voit’s rehab to ramp up?”, mashing Gittens onto the roster was a bit more complicated.
As much fun as it might’ve been to see Gittens taking oppo aim at the short porch for a few weeks, you don’t blow up the 40-man over a hunch.
Now, though? Voit’s out about two more months with a Grade 2 oblique strain (Aaron Judge missed 54 games with the same injury in 2019). The injured Ryan LaMarre is a DFA candidate waiting to happen. Aaron Hicks has to hit the 60-Day IL. Heck, Voit and Corey Kluber themselves might be placed on that injured list, opening up two more roster spots.
The math is no longer difficult. The Yankees won’t be making three or four midseason acquisitions. Promote Gittens and see if he can spark you — because, by the way, the offense has been bad with Voit.
The Yankees need to promote Chris Gittens to replace Luke Voit.
We’re not reinventing the wheel here. We’re simply advocating for the Yankees to give their minor-league veteran first baseman with Giancarlo Stanton-esque exit velocity some games worth of run instead of turning DJ LeMahieu into a full-time first baseman.
Rougned Odor can be a valuable piece for this team, but only to a certain extent. If he’s starting 60 of the next 64 games, a mistake has been made. And if he’s only benched in favor of Mike Ford, ditto.
Gittens struggled after arriving to Double-A Trenton as a 24-year-old in 2018, but since then, he’s showed off a mastery at every level. Repeating Double-A in his most recent full season, he OBP’d a remarkable .393 while hitting 23 bombs. This year, after losing the entirety of 2020, his first taste of Triple-A has gone spectacularly well. A .323/.523/.774 triple slash in 11 games, four homers, and a series of effortlessly powerful swings have set him up well for a promotion, especially now that there’s ample space.
Plus, he recently became a dad, so we haven’t even seen him reach his final form.
If there were no roster space, we’d understand keeping Gittens at the lower level.
If the offense were rolling on a regular basis, we’d advocate for staying the course and mixing and matching in Voit’s absence.
Neither of these things are the case, though. Changes must be made, and there’s one big alternative staring the Bombers in the face. They can’t pass it up this time.