Bad news: The 2023 New York Yankees have a sorry offense to begin the season.
Great news (for the angry people who said the Bombers ‘ran it back’ from last season): So far, you’re right! You’re a genius.
The top of the lineup, led by Anthony Volpe finding his footing, still includes big names in Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, and 2023 Garbage Time Hero Anthony Rizzo (sorry, sorry, I’m trying to delete it). But the back half? Without Giancarlo Stanton, they’ve collapsed like a house of cards yet again. Willie Calhoun should not be batting fifth; in fact, he has the lowest WAR of any player in MLB since 2020. The Franchy Cordero Era should end sooner rather than later. Aaron Hicks can’t track a fly ball, but at least he can get on base once in a blue moon, making him this team’s Most Valuable Player.
Luckily, it’s still April, and the Yankees have somehow managed to tread water with their stars on the shelf and lineup slumping; they’ve gone 5-7 in their last 12 games when they could’ve gone 0-44.
So, how do we fix this? Luckily, there are three players knocking on the door at Triple-A, ranging from “prospect” to “forgotten man,” who could help quickly. Hey, at least they’d be trying something.
3 players the 2023 New York Yankees should promote to fix their sorry offense
I don’t know if Jake Bauers has unlocked something and become a sustainable star at Triple-A. I doubt he has.
But there’s no reason for the Yankees not to try to ride his Scranton hot streak at the big-league level and figure out the rest later.
Jake Bauers' 9th HR of the season goes 465 ft!@swbrailriders | @Yankees pic.twitter.com/g77LyVNwbl
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 26, 2023
The Bombers had an open 40-man spot until Tuesday, when they promoted left-hander Nick Ramirez to be the last guy in the bullpen, but DFAing Calhoun/Cordero/Ramirez (sorry) could still clear a space pretty easily.
Bauers, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians, is 27 years old and has never had a season with over a 100 OPS+ at the big-league level (the closest he came was a 94 mark in his rookie year in Tampa). He’s probably a low-ceiling option. Probably.
That said, Bauers is currently laying waste to Triple-A, hitting .333 with a .481 OBP and 1.364 OPS, socking nine home runs in the early going. If there’s even a chance he could be doing that in the bigs right now — and from the left side, at that — he should be given the opportunity.
Old friend Estevan Florial somehow cleared waivers after being DFA’d by the Yankees, proving that the rest of MLB doesn’t see anything different than what the Yanks saw when they cut him loose.
If Florial’s next big-league cameo is anything like his previous attempts at sparking something interesting, then it’ll be underwhelming and end quickly. But the Yankees have to ride hot streaks where they can find them, and since making his way back to the organization, Florial’s been at his powerful best.
Through 11 games back with the organization, Florial has 10 hits in 36 at-bats (two doubles, two homers, and a triple). Perhaps more importanly, though, he’s walked like a madman, displaying a discerning eye that could lead to plenty of Volpe Doubles (walk + stolen base) at the next level (with the new bases). Florial’s taken 15 walks already this season, giving him a .278 average and .490 OBP.
It’s hard to confidently claim Florial has a big-league future with this team, especially since they already cut bait and shucked him off the 40-man after giving him several chances to stick. Again, though, if someone’s hot, why not play that hot hand? As sad as it is to say, Oswaldo Cabrera doesn’t seem to be contributing much at the moment, and could benefit from a Triple-A reset while Florial swipes a 40-man spot from the aforementioned trio from the Bauers section.
The Big Fish. The Door Prize. By far the most exciting thing the Yankees could do right now.
And Chaparro’s earning it.
Famously not on the 40-man either — and thanks, Every Other MLB Team in the Rule 5 Draft, for helping us out here — Chaparro began the 2023 season at Triple-A in an 0-for-29 skid. On April 8, he broke the ice with a home run … and never stopped.
Now, Chaparro’s hitting .228, but that means he’s gone 18-for-50 since his silent start (.360) while pummeling eight homers.
He might not be the team’s third baseman of the future. He might come with an “offense-only” profile, in the most pessimistic sense, but … that’s exactly what the Yankees need right now. In fact, it’s possible they’ve never needed a Triple-A offensive infusion more.
Prospects often struggle when they’re given a new test, which Yankee fans are learning first-hand through the trials and tribulations of Volpe/Cabrera/Oswald Peraza. There’s certainly a chance Chaparro begins his big-league career with a similar 0-fer skid to the one that tripped him up in Scranton earlier this month.
That said, he’s the player mentioned on this list with the most likely shot at a big-league future with the Yankees. And, if they intend to use him eventually, he’s going to begin his career with a hurdle, whenever that time comes. Maybe they’d prefer to break him in when the offense is humming and they can hide him. That power, though … he’d be a much more logical DH than Calhoun, and could probably go immediately from “promoted” to “batting fifth nightly”. That’s a sad indictment of the Yankees’ roster construction, but it’s also an endorsement of his impressive power. And it might be time.