Already bedeviled by injuries early this spring, the last thing the Yankees need is more unwelcome news on that front. However, in yet another less-than-ideal development, right fielder Aaron Judge will likely be down for at least another week, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Judge is “doing well” in his recovery from a sore right shoulder, per manager Aaron Boone, but he hasn’t progressed beyond hitting in the cage. Boone added that there’s “plenty of time” for Judge to ramp up before the season starts, but it’s still a situation worth monitoring for a Yankees club that’s also down two other starting outfielders in Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton.
- Speaking of Stanton, Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks back on a 2017-18 offseason that saw the Yankees acquire him and strike out in their pursuit of two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Three days after Ohtani went to the Angels, the Yankees landed the high-priced Stanton – then the reigning NL MVP – in a trade with the Marlins. Stanton would not have been a Yankee had they gotten Ohtani because there wouldn’t have been room for the two of them at DH, Sherman observes. While Stanton had a very productive first year as a Yankee and Ohtani has barely pitched because of injuries, his tenure in New York hasn’t gone well since then. Stanton was just about nonexistent last season because of his own health woes and is now battling a calf injury that could shelve him for Opening Day. Moreover, the Yankees are still on the hook for eight more seasons and $244MM of the 30-year-old Stanton (Ohtani makes a relative pittance, on the other hand), so Sherman argues that the team’s “going to have to continue to build rosters that assume his regular absence and do it with a payroll elevated by his contract.”
- Like Stanton, ace right-hander Luis Severino has seldom been available of late. Severino missed nearly all of last season as a result of injuries to his shoulder and lat, and he’ll sit out the entire 2020 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery this week. The Yankees, expecting Severino to remain the force he was from 2017-18, signed him to a four-year, $40MM extension before 2019. They’ve gotten pretty much nothing from that contract so far, though Bradford William Davis of the Daily News opines that there shouldn’t be any regret on the Yankees’ part for giving Severino the deal. Indeed, he was one of the best pitchers in the game at the time, then coming off two straight seasons of 190-plus innings, so durability wasn’t a question at that point. And as someone who won’t turn 27 until next February, there’s still time for Severino to make good on his reasonably priced pact.
- If the injury troubles that have limited Judge and Stanton since last season continue, it could open up playing time for outfielder Clint Frazier. Formerly a touted prospect, the 25-year-old racked up a career-high 245 major league plate appearances and hit .267/.317/.489 with 12 home runs last season, but he spent mid-June through the start of September in the minors to work on his defense. Although Frazier has long been a rumored trade candidate, he remains with the club, and he’s now vying for an everyday spot in its lineup, as Spencer Fordin of MLB.com writes. As Fordin details, Frazier has made a mechanical change at the plate – an approach he credits ex-teammate Matt Holliday for – and is hoping it helps him break through as a full-time major leaguer. “A lot of times, people have talked about my bat speed, but I never really felt like it was always there,” Frazier said. “I felt like I was trying to shoot a gun with it on safety. There were things stopping it along the way and I didn’t feel like I wanted it to. I feel like this move is giving me my best chance.”