Yankees make upside play, sign former Rangers top prospect outfielder


The New York Yankees have heard your demands, and responded by acquiring a lefty-swinging outfielder who got a Futures Game appearance under his belt.

Only issue? That Futures Game came in 2016, and Willie Calhoun’s development path hasn’t exactly been linear since his breakout .848 OPS 2019 season in Texas. Still, the Yankees could do far worse on a minor-league deal, with an available big-league role to be held aloft like a carrot in Calhoun’s path.

Calhoun has regressed since ’19, sure. On that issue, there can be no debate. But that’s how the Yankees were able to secure him Saturday night on a no-risk, non-roster deal to join Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera in competition for outfield playing time.

Calhoun played just four games with the Giants to end his 2022 season, but that still qualifies him as another Yankee thievery from the Bay Area in our book.

If San Francisco is trying to resurrect a player, there might just be something there.

Yankees sign former Rangers top prospect Willie Calhoun

Calhoun’s time in Texas — after being traded by the Dodgers as part of the Yu Darvish package — was marked by oddities. Though he socked 21 homers in 337 plate appearances in 2019, his year started off on a tantrum-induced foot; after being told he wasn’t making the roster out of spring training, he pouted and sulked in the outfield.

Constant reported disagreements over whether he was primarily a power threat or a contact specialist led to sporadic playing time and an uncertain future. Often demoted, Calhoun hit .250 with a .691 OPS in 75 big-league games in 2021, but showed signs of life at Triple-A Sacramento in 2022, triple-slashing .291/.376/.453 in 42 games at the level (with an .829 OPS to boot).

Calhoun probably isn’t a 30-homer threat at the big-league level, as he was once perceived to be. That said … he can occasionally do this.

Propping up Calhoun upon his signing with the Yankees sounds like a bit of a joke and a stretch, but as reclamation projects go, the former Ranger has more supporters than most.

The odds are against Calhoun ever delivering on his considerable potential, but the Yankees’ outfield future (and present) remain uncertain, and they have plenty to offer him as he looks to find himself this spring.