Yankees float outfield changes that could solve left field problem (in crazy way)
The New York Yankees might have a solution in place for both their left field vacancy and infield logjam, and it'll make you wonder why these same pieces couldn't have moved around back in 2017.
Kidding. Kind of.
The Yankees' outfield/DH rotation has long been complicated by Giancarlo Stanton's battle with inflexibility. The whole picture would be easier to unpack if Stanton were able to play in the outfield more consistently, as he did in Miami pre-Universal DH. Unfortunately, every time the Yankees have attempted to stretch his legs in recent seasons, the decision has eventually backfired, even though his small-sample performance in the field has always seemed to wake up his bat, too. Stanton hit .343 with a 1.065 OPS in 10 games in left in 2021, as well as .279 with seven bombs in 16 games in right.
Now 33 years old and coming off another injury-shortened season (this particular issue arising after his All-Star MVP appearance), Stanton has plenty to prove on offense, and might be on the verge of taking one for the team defensively, too.
According to Joel Sherman's retelling of Aaron Boone's "creative" plan, the Yankees will consider playing Stanton in right, Aaron Judge in left, and Harrison Bader in center this season. Bader in left/Judge in center is also reportedly a possibility. That would open up DH reps for Gleyber Torres and give DJ LeMahieu/Josh Donaldson a chance to share the infield, as well as plenty of opportunities for days off for ailing infielders/outfielders.
Yankees lineup with Giancarlo Stanton in right, Aaron Judge in left is stacked
Will this plan function better with a 33-year-old Stanton than it would've with a 30-year-old Stanton? The Yankees are banking on it.
Either way, a powerhouse lineup like this is a hell of a lot more encouraging than a projected group that either neuters Oswaldo Cabrera's flexibility/utilizes Aaron Hicks as a full-time starter.
The elephant in the room is that while Anthony Volpe is unlikely to start 2023 with the big-league Yankees, he should be knocking on the door, if all goes well.
The infield already feels overstuffed entering 2023. Imagine how uncomfortable it'll get when Volpe is ready to cross the threshold and Torres/Donaldson/LeMahieu/Kiner-Falefa/Peraza/Cabrera are all clamoring for at-bats? There's a reason a Torres trade feels like such a distinct possibility, even for a team that can't afford to sacrifice offense.
Stanton in the outfield is a far bigger upgrade than anything the Yankees could've swung this offseason, non-Reynolds division. Hopefully, the path to get to that alignment is paved with more than just good intentions.