Apparently, the New York Yankees‘ requirements for their recently-vacated assistant hitting coach gig are as follows: the new hire must be an analytically-inclined former ballplayer, and the new hire must also make all the rest of us feel extremely old.
The Bombers thought they’d solved this conundrum about two weeks ago with the pre-Christmas hiring of Eric Chavez, whose assistant role was formally announced by the team, and even heartily endorsed by an Aaron Boone Zoom press conference.
Boone confessed he was “blown away” by Chavez, and that the team planned to use him as a “Swiss Army knife” in the locker room, flitting about between different duties.
Little did we know that “team” would actually be the New York Mets, who poached Chavez to serve as their primary hitting coach earlier this week. Now, we have no idea how he’ll be used! Best of luck in all your endeavors!
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees are already hard at work on contingency plans — though they’ve already thrown their hearty endorsement behind Dillon Lawson, their former minor-league coordinator who’s been tasked with bringing his “hit strikes hard” approach to MLB as the team’s lead hitting coach.
To fulfill the now-vacated assistant role, the team is reportedly eyeing someone we had no idea was involved in coaching circles: recently-retired Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo, according to the Daily News’ Kristie Ackert.
Could the Yankees add Mark Trumbo instead of Eric Chavez?
Trumbo, who silently retired at the tail end of the 2019 season, was mentioned by Ackert as not only a candidate, but also a hotly-pursued one who’s had a decent amount of MLB interest tthis offseason:
"According to a source, Trumbo is “very well thought of [in baseball circles] and a smart and engaging communicator,” who’s been connected to a few teams this winter.The Yankees have “cast a wide net” looking for someone who will help Dillon Lawson, the minor league hitting coordinator promoted to hitting coach, turn around an offense that was shockingly disappointing and inconsistent in 2021. But they also want someone with experience playing in the big leagues who can help balance out a staff that is very heavy on coaches with analytics backgrounds and very light on playing experience."
Communication skills aside, Yankee fans are understandably shocked. They were extremely familiar with Chavez, both for his power prowess, bat-to-ball skills, and defensive intensity — of course, it didn’t hurt that he was a former Bomber from 2011-2012.
Trumbo, on the other hand, is an unfamiliar rival who posted a 108 career OPS+, his best season coming in 2016 (47 bombs, 108 RBI, his second career All-Star appearance). Trumbo was, by and large, a big bopper — and, with that, came overblown whiff numbers. He struck out 170 times that season, and 184 in 2013, his career high.
Does a slugger known for booming homers, but not fundamentals and certainly not defense fit the bill of what the Yankees are looking for?
More importantly, perhaps, does it fit the bill of what they should be looking for?
The swift departure from Chavez and reengagement with Trumbo, floating his name in the press by end of week, signals that something is close here.
Hopefully, the level of deep connection Trumbo has with Rio Ruiz, per the interview above, translates to the entire Yankees roster, and not his worst characteristics as a ballplayer.