Yankees activate Aaron Judge, take 'easy' way out and demote fan favorite rookie

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees
Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees / Al Bello/GettyImages

As first reported on Wednesday, the Yankees have made good on leaks and activated Aaron Judge, their captain and superstar, for the opening game of the team's crucial series with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

That meant both a momentous return for the lineup and a difficult decision to make for the braintrust. Judge's return was set to worsen an outfield logjam, coming at a rare moment where the team's entire offense was largely healthy.

Willie Calhoun became that jam's first victim on Friday morning, getting returned from his rehab assignment and DFA'd rather than swiping a roster spot.

Who would be next? Would either Billy McKinney or Jake Bauers get the boot? Both had been relatively successful (and occasional life savers) in Judge's absence. What about an Isiah Kiner-Falefa trade? His value had increased bit by bit with Judge on the shelf (though he's still a natural infielder, as any observer could see). Greg Allen? He just got back, complicating this picture further.

As it turns out, the Yankees envision him occupying the infield, too. Rookie Oswald Peraza, one of very few rostered players with options, got the unfortunate boot.

Yankees activate Aaron Judge, demote Oswald Peraza to Triple-A

It felt like there was at least a chance New York would send down a reliever with options (Ron Marinaccio?) and go short for a few days in order to bide some time here. That was always a longshot, though, despite Peraza being a positive contributor once again after being elevated in Josh Donaldson's stead.

Still, the offense is ... lacking, to say the least. Peraza went 3-for-20 with 5 walks during his short, recent stint. It feels as if there'll never be an obvious fit for him on the roster until the Yankees bite the Gleyber Torres bullet or another injury surfaces.

Knowing this team well, it's highly likely that the second option presents itself in the weeks to come.