Will Yankees explore signing recently-released old friend after Aaron Judge injury?

New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

First, the DFA process came for Luke Voit, and the Yankees said nothing, because they did not require a slugging first baseman.

Then, the process came for Lucas Luetge, and the Yankees stayed silent, because they did not need an innings-soaking reliever (yes, even after losing Ryan Weber).

But ... now that 2023 spring training standout Rafael Ortega has been released from his minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers, will the Yankees pivot, in the wake of Aaron Judge's injury, and go outside the organization like they did at the end of spring training?

You remember that, right? They let Ortega walk, clearing a path for Estevan Florial to contribute ... only to pick up Franchy Cordero at the horn, riding his hot streak for a few weeks before his bat disappeared.

Now? Florial could be the heir apparent, with the Yankees' outfield currently clogged with DHs and infielders ... or they could go back to Ortega and the beginning of their spring training time loop.

Yankees Rumors: Rafael Ortega candidate to fill outfield spot? Again?

Ortega's 2021 season (121 OPS+ with the Cubs) felt like enough of a reason to bring him north this spring, but his 2023 spring training with the Yankees left something to be desired. He drilled three homers and built momentum early, but by the end of March, he was down to .158 (with a .327 OBP) and found himself back on the waiver wire.

At Triple-A with the Rangers, he continued muddling along, hitting .226/.333/.381 with five homers (though he got that up to .247/.349/.427 in May/June). That's not nearly good enough to crack the Rangers' world-class offense, though, and now it's up to the Yankees to decide whether they'd like to stick with what they've got internally or go for broke with a "familiar" face.

The last time they had this opportunity, they shucked Ortega off the roster, brought Florial north for ~24 hours, and went completely outside the box for a solution. That probably tells you all you need to know about their opinion of the ex-Cub. If they can't have Kole Calhoun, maybe they don't deserve anyone at all.