Yankees surprisingly reunite with boom-or-bust player ahead of Home Opener

They certainly need more bench pieces.
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

On the Wednesday before Opening Day, the Yankees sent non-earthquake shockwaves across the fan base by acquiring Jon Berti, showing the intentionality they've long lacked in crafting a bench.

Just before the home opener on Friday afternoon, the Yankees shocked their fans once again by bringing back a familiar face on a minor-league contract.

With DJ LeMahieu currently on the shelf rehabbing from a mysterious fracture, and Oswald Peraza starting a return-to-play program soon, but not soon enough, the Yankees clearly want to collect options who aren't Jahmai Jones.

Without reading too much into it, the Yankees have secured Rougned Odor, an old friend from 2021, to report to Triple-A Scranton and potentially insure against future depth loss. He'll play in the system for at least three months, and can trigger an opt out after July 1 if the team hasn't called his number yet. Based on the way the Yankees operate, they'll likely try him.

Yankees sign Rougned Odor to minor-league contract

Don't be shocked if he somehow shows up on the field Friday afternoon the first time a mound visit is called.

As far as preexisting options go, both Caleb Durbin and Jeter Downs have started off scorching at Scranton, but neither player is on the 40-man roster. Jorbit Vivas is, but suffered a facial fracture at the tail end of spring training (around the same time Oscar González did in a different country). Jonathan Loaisiga's trip to the 60-Day IL on Friday morning opened up a 40-man spot, so the Yankees can surely make something happen if they need to.

Odor has never had an issue going yard, posting three 30-homer seasons before the age of 26. With the Yankees in 2021, he slugged 15 in 361 plate appearances, but posted just a .665 OPS/82 OPS+ to go along with the pop. He's not much of an on-base guy, after all. He played similarly for the 2022 Orioles (81 OPS+ in 472 plate appearances) and posted carbon-copy stats again in 59 games with the 2023 Padres.

If he plays a role of any kind for these Yankees, odds are that role will be "energizer" -- with, yes, an 80-ish OPS+. Could be worse, but hopefully isn't a commentary on any existing injury healing progressions.