Why will the next Estevan Florial promotion to the Yankees be different from failed stints in 2020, 2021 and 2022? Because, despite what New York's braintrust seems to think, it's clear from Florial's latest conversation with The Athletic's Brendan Kuty that something locked in the moment Brian Cashman attempted to cut him loose in April.
When Florial floated back to the Yankees after somewhat inexplicably clearing waivers, he lost the most important thing to his future in New York: his 40-man roster spot, which has been manhandled by Franchy Cordero since the same day the 25-year-old was DFA'd.
Now, promoting Florial will require the Yankees to cut someone else loose, which they've been entirely unwilling to do ever since they deemed him unworthy in the first place on Opening Day. Cordero would seem to be an obvious casualty. Willie Calhoun, now injured, doesn't seem essential, either. Ditto Nick Ramirez. Ditto Albert Abreu. Ditto Deivi Garcia.
But post-Aug. 1 trade deadline, clearing a 40-man spot will either be easier than ever (if no one is traded and there's additional dead weight) or downright impossible (if there are four new Yankees that afternoon). Florial, who's been unable to capture the Yankees' faith with a reduced strikeout rate (30.9 to 30.4 to 29% the past three seasons) and renewed power (.973 OPS), will either be given a reluctant last shot or will be playing in Seattle, Cleveland or Kansas City.
The Yankees don't believe in him. That much is clear, based on the semantic hoops they've created for him to jump through. But Florial developed a chip on his shoulder earlier this season, and hasn't allowed being bummed to impact his meteoric rise.
Yankees need to give Estevan Florial one final shot with MLB team
Of course, when Josh Donaldson's injury/60-day IL placement opened up a 40-man spot, the Yankees used it on ... reliever Matt Bowman instead.
As Kuty writes:
"Florial’s accomplishments have come as the Yankees have passed over him every time they have needed help in the outfield, and particularly in left field, where their play has been underwhelming. Asked whether it’s been difficult seeing opportunities pass him by, he said, 'What can I say? Sometimes.'"- Brendan Kuty, The Athletic
When asked about his breakout season, Florial also delivered the cryptic line, "It's not over yet," indicating ... what, exactly? That he's not satisfied with a hot half? That he won't feel he's made tangible progress until he's in the majors? Or that he knows, when it's "over," he'll likely be facing a new challenge in a new city?
In 63 scattered big-league plate appearances across the past four seasons (remember 2020?), Florial has not hit at all (.185, 66 OPS+). His athleticism was an occasional boon in center and on the bases, but he was unable to master the extremely difficult task of translating his skill set to sporadic appearances. Perfect prospects struggle with that adjustment. Imperfect ones with K rates to manage? Next to impossible.
Florial deserves an extended look, but with Greg Allen close to returning from a rehab assignment, things are only going to get more difficult for him to break through in New York. He's earned two weeks of consistency that he may never get in pinstripes. The Yankees have made their call, and don't want to potentially be proven wrong. Others have done it after escaping New York's clutches, though, and Florial is likely next in line.