Is 35-year-old journeyman left-handed hitter Kole Calhoun an equivalent player to mega-star Aaron Judge? No! Absolutely not.
But, in a short-term period, is Calhoun (with a reworked swing) more likely to provide adequate replacement production than, say, Willie Calhoun or Oswaldo Cabrera? Probably, yes.
Luckily, if the Yankees lose Judge long-ish-term, which seems likely after the team kept him out of Tuesday's lineup while "awaiting a toe diagnosis," they have Kole Calhoun in reserv--I'm sorry, what? The deadline for Calhoun's minor-league opt-out was ... just a couple days ago? So, they lost him before their outfield picture radically changed? Neat.
Not only did the Yankees release Calhoun rather than promote him just a few days before a gaping outfield hole developed, but they also received an unfortunate bit of pitching news that could've cleared up a 40-man roster spot to facilitate this entire multi-levered production.
But ... nope. Because Calhoun officially opted out June 1 rather than June 4, the Yankees find themselves in a bit of a bind.
Yankees could've replaced Aaron Judge with Kole Calhoun, but life is unfair
At the time of Calhoun's release, it was hard to argue he filled a need for the big-league Yankees, especially without an open 40-man spot. He doesn't play center field. He isn't a Harrison Bader backup. Hell, it would've made more sense to promote Estevan Florial again and give him the spot.
Now? The Yankees would've at least been able to give Calhoun a try before letting him test the waters to see if the mechanical changes that created his .918 OPS in 23 games with Scranton were applicable to MLB action.
Sadly, there's now a readily-available way to clear a 40-man spot, too, as reliever Ryan Weber awaits testing on his elbow that could rapidly send him to the 60-Day IL. Weber was added to the Injured List with a forearm strain over the weekend, and readily admitted that he feared a Tommy John surgery diagnosis, telling the media that he felt his body "barking," and “right in the bad area" to boot.
There's no good time to lose Aaron Judge for a length of the season, but at least the Yankees had a ready-made replacement in tow just a few days ago, begging for a chance to contribute. Now? ...I don't know, maybe they hit the free agent pool and circle back with Calhoun's agents?