Earlier this offseason, when the Yankees shucked Estevan Florial off the 40-man roster in favor of Franchy Cordero, the rest of the league thought so little of the former top prospect that they allowed him to float back to New York unclaimed.
Since then, he's been tucked away at Triple-A Scranton, and no matter how much he's slugged, the Yankees' opinion of him clearly remains unchanged since that cold day in April.
Florial could really use a change of scenery, but as New York's offense sinks to new lows with each daily recalibration, it remains shocking that said change didn't involve a simple shuttle from Scranton to the Bronx.
Ironically, the Yankees have found fits and starts of success from their fill-in outfielders, from Billy McKinney to Jake Bauers to Isiah Kiner-Falefa. But the final nail in Florial's New York coffin came when Aaron Judge joined Harrison Bader on the IL a week and a half ago and, needing center field depth, the Yankees went off the 40-man menu to ... McKinney, leaving Florial dying on the vine at Triple-A.
Well ... not dying, really. He's been one of the hottest hitters in the high minors for months. He socked home runs No. 16 and 17 on the season on Thursday. He's hitting .312 with a .405 OBP and 1.053 OPS. If the Yankees were to promote him and it actually worked, it would've been a "get out of jail free" card for an offense persisting mostly on vibes at this point (OBP under .300 with Judge, 30th in all of baseball in OPS without him). It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
Is Estevan Florial just stuck in Yankees limbo?
Will Florial solve the offense's woes? The Yankees have made perfectly clear they don't believe so; that much is obvious. But to the untrained eye, it remains somewhat ridiculous they haven't bothered to try. It only gets more ridiculous every day.
Yes. Yes, trade assets for Cardinals slugger Tyler O'Neill to fill your left field gap. He's currently on the shelf with a lingering back injury and had a 70 OPS+ before he went down. Maybe he, Anthony Rizzo and Carlos Rodón can swap salves and heating pads. Definitely don't look in your own backyard first.
The worst part of all this for Florial is that McKinney, Bauers, and Willie Calhoun have all become relative folk heroes while the projected Yankees outfield sits in shambles. If only Florial were a lefty-swinging third baseman who could supplant Josh Donaldson, or a utility infield type, then he might have a chance to make a real impact.
The Yankees' group of outfield misfits obviously haven't torn the cover off the ball. If they had, this team wouldn't be the absolute dregs on offense, flirting with Oakland A's territory sans-Judge (just kidding, terrible comparison, the A's are coming off a seven-game heater). The stars haven't aligned for Florial, but the Yankees have also made sure they couldn't, occasionally pushing the stars aside when they almost did to give someone else a chance.
We know they won't promote him. But any other punchless team sitting on a prospect this hot would be ridiculed. So let's open up the gates and laugh a little at a front office that made its decision on Florial long before he showed any additional promise.