1:01PM: Gittens has been officially signed to a Major League deal and selected to the Yankees’ roster. Corey Kluber was moved to the 60-day injured list to open up a 40-man spot for Gittens.
9:37AM: The Yankees will select the contract of first baseman Chris Gittens prior to today’s game against the Red Sox, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reports (Twitter link). Reliever Nick Nelson was optioned to Triple-A after last night’s game, so while there is an opening on the active roster, another transaction is necessary to add Gittens to the 40-man roster.
Now in his seventh pro season, “Hard Hittin’ Gittens” is set to make his Major League debut after being a 12th-round pick for the Yankees in the 2014 draft. The 27-year-old is a classic first base/DH slugger, though not quite a three-true-outcomes type — Gittens has a .265/.375/.476 slash line and 75 homers over 1727 career plate appearances in the minors. He does have 476 strikeouts on his resume, though Gittens has cut down on his strikeout rate considerably during what has been a breakout season at Triple-A.
Playing at Triple-A for the first time in his career, Gittens has hit .283/.486/.585 over 74 PA for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. These offensive numbers would stand out in any circumstance, but they especially appeal to a Yankees team that has been surprisingly mediocre at the plate this season, with especially little coming from the first base position. Luke Voit has missed much of the year due to injury, and New York first basemen have combined for a 76 wRC+, ranking 26th of 30 teams.
The door is certainly open for Gittens to earn some regular playing time if he can even approach his Triple-A production, as Voit isn’t expected back from his oblique strain until late June. Gittens’ audition at first base will essentially push Rougned Odor out of New York’s lineup, as DJ LeMahieu will likely move from regular first-base duty to supplant the struggling Odor at second base.