When Aaron Judge and a gaggle of current and former teammates were spotted at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game as his free agency decision loomed, the presence of Mike Tauchman seemed to spell doom.
After all, Tauchman had been a Giant more recently than he'd been with the Yankees. Surely, Judge's oddball invite involved pressing him for more information on what it was like to be a member of the San Francisco family ... right?
Just 48 hours later, that anxiety turned to optimism. Judge was a long-term Yankee. Could he bring Tauchman with him?! We could use some outfield depth!
Sadly, that Yankees reunion was not to be; after spending time overseas with the KBO's Hanwha Eagles (and crushing it), Tauchman returned to the Cubs instead this winter on a minor-league deal.
After starting strong at Triple-A Iowa, the 32-year-old earned a promotion to the big club on May 19. So far, so very good, which is frustrating to see, given the state of the Yankees' left field picture, but still extremely rewarding for the ultimate 2019 next man up.
Former Yankees OF Mike Tauchman loves Cubs, Wrigley Field
The 2019 season officially ended when Aroldis Chapman hung one and Jose Altuve banged it, but two final injuries that year were too much for the Yankees to overcome after a summer littered with pain. Giancarlo Stanton going down after Game 1 of the ALCS was the final blow, but losing Tauchman to a muscle pull in left field at Fenway Park in September was similarly gutting. If he'd stayed healthy, he would've filled Stanton's gap ably for the rest of the Houston series. Instead, those were the two straws that broke Aaron Boone's back.
Tauchman's well-earned second chance with the Cubs this summer has already been impressive through just 31 at-bats. He's been worth 0.6 WAR; that's higher than Anthony Volpe's fWAR value, let alone the Yankees' cacophony of left field failures. He's hit .355 with a 141 OPS+, highlighted by a 3-for-7 series with a trio of RBI against the East-leading Rays.
Should the Yankees have extended an olive branch to Tauchman this offseason after his 2020 season in pinstripes flatlined? They believe in Jake Bauers. They've gotten plenty from Willie Calhoun. Hell, Tauchman's start looks a lot like what Franchy Cordero did in April. The Yankees might not have a solution in place, but probably won't lose sleep over passing on a Quad-A former friend.
It's still been pleasant to see Tauchman's smooth lefty swing materializing yet again, especially when the Rays come to Wrigley.