The clamoring for Tyler Austin reached a fever pitch in New York this week as Chris Carter continued to be fairly atrocious at first base for the Yankees. Calling for Carter to be anywhere but in the Bronx coincided with the team’s worst skid of the year, but his ineptitude was nothing new. Pleas for a change have finally been heard.
After the Yankees’ late night walk-off win over the Rangers, the team announced that Carter was DFA’d in favor of Austin. The team has an early game tomorrow, so shuffling the deck so late at night is not an easy task. Still, it felt like a necessary move.
Signing Carter to a one-year deal in hopes he could recreate the magic of his 2016 season was a savvy move by the Yankees. There was nothing to lose. Sometimes those lottery tickets hit and the move looks like a genius one. This one didn’t.
Carter hovered around the Mendoza line, showing little of the power that helped him to 41 home runs a year ago. Greg Bird’s lingering injury forced Carter into the lineup more than the Yankees likely imagined as ideal, but it was clear that it just wasn’t working.
Austin, himself, has been recovering from an injury that cost him a shot at making the Opening Day roster. Right up until, well, now, the Yankees insisted that they believed Carter to be the superior option at first base in Bird’s absence. Austin has done nothing but hit homers this week for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make those statements look pretty foolish.
To be sure, hitting in the minors is different than hitting in the majors. Austin is unlikely to be any kind of savior. The team no longer views him as an outfielder, so his value is limited to what he can do at first base until Bird is healthy enough to resume his post. It’s really a no-brainer for them to swap Austin for Carter, though. So that’s what they’ve done.
In 27 games with the RailRiders, Austin batted .300/.366/.560 with four home runs. Three of those coming on consecutive nights this week. There was nothing to lose by giving him a shot, and the boos that rained down on Carter after his strike out with a runner on third with a chance to win the game weren’t going to get any better anytime soon.