The Yankees announced Friday that they’ve reinstated outfielder Willie Calhoun from the injured list and designated him for assignment. Calhoun had been on a rehab assignment in Double-A but is out of minor league options, meaning once he wrapped up that rehab he’d either need to be placed back on the big league roster or designated. The Yankees opted for the DFA route and will now have until Tuesday to trade him. He’ll otherwise be placed on outright or release waivers.
With reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge expected back from the injured list tonight, the Yankees’ outfield is on the verge of becoming more crowded. New York could’ve parted with any of Billy McKinney, Jake Bauers or Greg Allen as a means of getting Calhoun back onto the roster, but the former two have outhit Calhoun this year while the latter provides a far better glove and a backup option in center field.
Calhoun, 28, once ranked as one of the sport’s top minor league talents but has never delivered the type of offense that was expected of him as a bat-first prospect. He signed a minor league deal with the Yanks in the offseason and has since turned in a .239/.309/.403 batting line (96 wRC+) in 149 trips to the plate. Calhoun has walked at an above-average 9.4% rate against a considerably lower-than-average 13.4% strikeout rate, showing a keen eye at the plate and strong bat-to-ball skills. Calhoun also sports a 90.7 mph average exit velocity and 42.6% hard-hit rate — both strong numbers in their own right.
Be that as it may, Bauers and McKinney have both shown more power in their also-limited time with the Yankees. Judge and center fielder Harrison Bader are, of course, locked into the regular lineup now that the former is set to return from the injured list. Giancarlo Stanton is set as the primary designated hitter. None of McKinney, Bauers, Allen or Calhoun can be optioned, so the Yankees effectively had to decide between the four — and Calhoun proved the odd man out.
There’s a chance Calhoun will be moved between now and the trade deadline, but it could be the end of his time with the Yankees regardless. Even if he’s ultimately passed through waivers unclaimed, he’d have the option to refuse an outright assignment in favor of free agency.