Yankees could dodge a shot with Harrison Bader hit
While we still don’t know the extent of Harrison Bader’s perverted issues, reports from Harrison Bader himself suggest that this isn’t the worst case scenario. When Bader’s slanted dynasty was announced, there was a lot of concern that that could oust Bader for months, and the Yankees are very shallow on CF. Bader still likely started the season at IL, but similar to Carlos Rodon’s injury, the Yankees could have avoided another disaster injury. Injuries are always bad news, but the Yankees may have avoided a serious long-term problem with Bader’s injury.
Harrison Bader chimes in with an injury
Newsday Sports’ Eric Boland reports that Bader replied “No, not at all” when asked if he missed a significant amount of time, which is an encouraging sign on its own, but he made a second comment that added to that relief. While the Yankees are still waiting for an official diagnosis and return schedule, Bader stated that he didn’t feel much discomfort, which is why the uncertainty about his injury baffled. It’s a wait-and-see situation for the Yankees, but based on what Bader said about this slanted dynasty, he can avoid wasting the big time.
This is big news for the Yankees, who would like Bader’s speed and defense in the lineup, along with the upside he has shown with the bat. The Yankees could play Aaron Judge on CF, but they acquired Bader specifically, so they wouldn’t have to. Estevan Florial is the closest potential team they’ve got to the Majors, but he’s had an impressive MLB championship record and an awful spring so far. The Yankees clearly care more about the health of their players for the month of October, so pushing players who are in discomfort to play in March won’t happen.
Brian Cashman and the Yankees already know the song and dance to enter the postseason with IL’s key players, and to avoid that, they’ll need to be careful with them early on. With that said, the Yankees may have to get creative with CF right now.
Who is the next midfielder?
The first player that comes to mind is Aaron Judge, who played most of his games in CF as the Yankees moved Aaron Hicks to LF mid-season. Aaron Boone has also mentioned Estevan Florial and Rafael Ortega as having depth, but as previously mentioned with Florial, he doesn’t seem ready for MLB. He struggled mightily this spring, with a 36.4% K% and only . 202 wOBA. The Yankees might appreciate Rafael Ortega’s communication and communication skills with the Cubs and in the spring, as he was so hot early on. Ortega averages 92.4 mph on the out with a 0.500 OBP and 33.3% BB%, projecting a 105 wRC+bat by ZiPs.
Rafael Ortega also ranks at 86 percent in Pulled Flyball%, which would work great at Yankee Stadium as a left-handed hitter. The problem is, Ortega’s -3 DRS and -3 OAA in CF, making him a below average defender at this position. While Aaron Judge has been a positive CF linebacker, the Yankees may not want to play their super-expensive superstar in a more physically demanding position. They also have Oswaldo Cabrera, but his CF experience was limited to just one game at center in spring training, so could he really be asked to play position?
He handled LF decently, and in Yankee Stadium, it can be a very difficult situation to play, but CF is a whole different challenge. He’s got an arm, he’s got the instincts, but the question is mostly about his range. He covered three feet more than the average he did in 2022, and that might be an indication that Cabrera can handle such a physically demanding situation, but are they going to start him there full time? They’ve shown a willingness to throw Cabrera into a fire before, but March/April is a different level of desperation than August/September.
The good news surrounding all of this is that it looks as if these assumptions in the rollout announcement will only be a short-term fix before Bader returns. The Yankees will have to mix and match at center for now, but if Harrison Bader’s words are any indication, he won’t be out for long.