As if the Yankees had any room left in their bag to suffer another ironic, post-trade deadline indignity, they now have that opportunity after losing surprise slugger Matt Carpenter on Monday night in Seattle.
Carpenter was felled by a foul ball in the first inning, and by the middle innings, the Bombers had already announced he had suffered a foot fracture. Carpenter’s absence will be felt immediately and for a prolonged period; though the mustachioed assassin felt like a cute story, he actually posted the second-highest OPS of anyone since the date of his arrival on May 26, along with several other power numbers that rank among the league’s elite.
And with his departure also goes one specific Yankees coping mechanism. While Carpenter might have cooled off, and might have fallen out of the Yanks’ October starting lineup (replaced by Harrison Bader in the outfield and Giancarlo Stanton in the DH slot), his presence was also part of our justification for the Andrew Benintendi acquisition.
After all, in our game of Devil’s Advocate, would losing Benintendi for all games in Toronto really be so bad if Carpenter were able to fill his place in the outfield? Worst-case scenario (we thought), an unvaccinated Benintendi would be able to play Yankee Stadium home games against Toronto, while Carpenter could carry the load during the late-September regular-season series in Canada (which seems more and more likely to matter by the day), as well as during any potential postseason matchups.
Carpenter believes he’ll be back before the end of the season. He has to believe it. He can’t tell himself any differently. But if he doesn’t return by the end of September, which seems unlikely, the Yankees might be willfully sacrificing another offensive weapon for a showdown between the top two teams in the AL East, something they can ill afford.
Will Yankees be able to use Andrew Benintendi in Toronto after Matt Carpenter injury?
Throughout the period immediately after the Benintendi trade went down, many reporters assured fans that the Royals outfielder had reversed his vaccination stance, leading to the quickly-consummated trade.
The very next day, though, that was revealed to be untrue; Benintendi is reportedly still considering a change to his personal decision, but has yet to act on that consideration. How could Brian Cashman have pulled the trigger without the same assurances Whit Merrifield gave the Blue Jays? Your guess is as good as mine, but he did, and he still trusts in Benintendi’s process.
Even though the Yankees weren’t really in a position to sacrifice offense two weeks ago, either, that goes doubly now with Anthony Rizzo’s absence growing and Giancarlo Stanton’s disappearance looming larger. Can Cashman afford to be patient here?
Even if Cashman is ignoring subtleties, it’s clear Benintendi’s vaccination status did impact the Yankees’ and Royals’ trade. The package felt light, likely due to the questions surrounding his playoff availability. That, in turn, could’ve led to Cashman pouncing.
Without Carpenter, will the Yankees press Benintendi to commit? If he won’t, they’ll be forced to live with their decision after a key piece of insurance was removed from the equation — which might be a preview of how the Jordan Montgomery situation plays out, too.