The Yankees announced a series of roster moves before this evening’s game against the Red Sox. New York selected the contracts of outfielder Greg Allen, catcher Rob Brantly and infielder Hoy Jun Park (previously reported). As expected, All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge, third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka landed on the COVID-19 injured list. (Manager Aaron Boone implied this afternoon all three players had tested positive for the virus as part of its spread within the Yankees clubhouse).
Additionally, first baseman Luke Voit has been placed on the 10-day IL, retroactive to July 13, with left knee inflammation. Fellow first baseman Chris Gittens was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take his active roster spot.
Allen and Brantly each have a decent amount of big league experience, although neither has played in the majors to this point in 2021. Allen, a switch-hitting outfielder, suited up for the Indians and Padres between 2017-20. He’s only managed a tepid .239/.298/.343 line across 618 MLB plate appearances, but he’s an elite runner capable of covering all three outfield spots. The 28-year-old has had a strong season with Scranton, hitting .272/.409/.369 over 128 trips to the dish, drawing 15 walks and rather remarkably reaching base via hit-by-pitch nine times.
Brantly, a lefty-hitting backstop, has appeared in parts of six major league seasons for four different clubs. He appeared in one game with the Giants last year but hasn’t accrued more than 36 MLB plate appearances in any single season since 2013. The 32-year-old has hit a stellar .270/.391/.477 with six homers in 133 plate appearances with the RailRiders this year and will be on hand as Gary Sánchez’s backup while Higashioka is on the shelf.
As part of the 2021 health and safety protocols, players selected to the big league roster as replacements for players landing on the COVID-19 injured list can be removed from the 40-man roster without being exposed to waivers. Thus, each of Allen, Brantly and Park can be taken off the 40-man and returned to Scranton without being offered to other teams upon the returns of Judge, Urshela and Higashioka.
Voit’s IL placement is unrelated to the Yankees’ COVID-19 situation. It’s the third stint of the season for the slugging first baseman, who’s had a disappointing 2021 campaign because of health woes. The diagnosis of left knee inflammation is particularly alarming since Voit began the season on the IL after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in the area. (His second stint was due to an oblique strain). Voit will undergo a lubricating injection and is looking at potential platelet-rich plasma treatment, Boone told reporters (including Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). The team didn’t provide a timetable for his return, but it seems he could be looking at another significant absence given the skipper’s comments.
That should leave first base to Gittens, who was selected to the roster during Voit’s second IL stint earlier this year. The 27-year-old didn’t perform well over his first 25 MLB plate appearances, but he’s had a downright monstrous season in Triple-A. The right-handed hitting slugger has mashed at a .359/.519/.718 clip across 104 plate appearances with the RailRiders this year.