The New York Yankees aren’t quite planning to enter 2023 with a wide-open left field spot begging for competition, but so far, they’ve been unable to secure a veteran presence to man the position.
Andrew Benintendi, the “incumbent” after a midseason trade (who also missed Sept. and Oct. with a wrist fracture), signed a five-year deal with the Chicago White Sox that was too rich (and lengthy) for the Yankees’ blood. Michael Brantley never seemed to be of interest (or available); he went back to Houston. Daulton Varsho was traded from Arizona to Toronto for a top prospect package that Brian Cashman never would’ve matched.
In essence, while Calhoun isn’t guaranteed a job, he’s guaranteed a look, which is all someone of his current stature can ask for.
When spring training arrives, Calhoun and recent signee Billy McKinney will join an outfield rotation that also includes utility wunderkind Oswaldo Cabrera and the overpaid/rarely utilized Aaron Hicks.
Once a top prospect in the Rangers and Dodgers organizations — and someone who’s shone at the MLB level, hitting 21 homers in 83 games back in 2019 — Calhoun fell out of favor in recent years in Texas, unable to find his niche with a rebuilding ballclub. Needless to say, he’s excited to see the light in New York, and curried favor with the local fans with his introductory tweet.
Yankees OF Willie Calhoun hoping for fresh start in the Bronx
Let’s make sure every kid’s dream, in this generation and the next, remains playing in a Yankee uniform. A few more World Series wins — and a few fewer embarrassments at the hands of the Red Sox and Astros — could make that a possibility.
Calhoun — like No. 99, your captain and mine, Aaron Judge — apparently grew up a fan of the San Francisco Giants, and got to live out that version of his childhood dream at the end of the 2022 season, catching on for a few weeks after leaving the Rangers organization.
Hopefully, he and Judge can connect over how that chapter of their “dreams” has officially closed.
If Calhoun is the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder, that means some of their best-laid plans went significantly awry (and probably that Cabrera was needed to patch up an infield vacancy created by a trade).
Still, there’s a pathway for him to contribute in 2023, which is more than he could’ve asked for a few weeks back. Dream come true, but it’s just the beginning.