Boxing Day, celebrated the day after Christmas, marks the occasion to return and exchange gifts received over the holidays. Shopping malls open early, and crowds may rival that of Black Friday. The hustle and bustle doesn’t stop with December 25th.
As for the Yankees, they made a few moves in 2018 that they probably wish they could return. None were terrible ideas in theory, but they just didn’t work out. It happens. If there existed a place to exchange or get a refund in the baseball world, however, the Bombers would show up with these players.
The Yankees acquired Drury in a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Rays on February 20th. It cost New York two prospects: infielder Nick Solak and right-handed pitcher Taylor Widener. This move allowed the Yankees to take their time developing top prospect Miguel Andujar. At just 25 years old, Dury had notable big league experience, but he wasn’t an over-the-hill veteran blocking Andujar.
“Oh man, I am pumped and can’t wait to get there,’’ Drury explained to the New York Post after the trade. “I am thinking about the opportunity I have. Playing for the New York Yankees is a dream and I have to take advantage of it. I was a Yankee fan (as a kid).’’
Unfortunately that quote might be the high-point of Drury’s stint with the Yankees. He appeared in just 18 games, hitting .176/.263/.275 with a home run in pinstripes. A series of migraines and blurred visions removed him from the lineup in late March, and Andujar effectively Wally Pipp’d him. At least the Bombers got J.A. Happ out of the ordeal?
Like many second-tier free agents last year, Walker had no team to call home when spring training rolled around. That changed on March 12th, when the Yankees inked the veteran infielder to a one-year, $4 million major league deal. With this move, the front office confirmed that they had doubts about starting two rookie infielders.
Walker never got it going at the plate, hitting .219/.309/.354 with 11 home runs. He transitioned into a bench role after the Yankees called up Gleyber Torres on April 21st. Some attribute an improper spring training for his batting woes, and he did come around after the All-Star break.
Walker’s first half wRC+ — 54
Walker’s second half wRC+ — 112
Nevertheless, he had an overall disappointing season and lost his starting role less than a month into the season. That seems like the very definition of something you want to exchange, right?
When the Yankees signed Shane Robinson to a minor league contract on February 8th, that seemed harmless enough, no? Invite him to big league camp and let him roam the outfield for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Teams make moves like that all the time. How could you complain about such a routine depth signing?
Well, when an errant fastball fractured Aaron Judge’s wrist, the team had no option to turn to but Robinson. His presence, combined with the Yankees’ misread estimate of Judge’s recovery timetable, resulted in the team not adding an outfielder at the non-waiver trade deadline. The club ran Robinson out there for 23 games, where he created a black hole in the lineup. Robinson managed a -2 wRC+ filling in for Judge. It would take until August 31st before the Yankees acquired an adequate replacement in the form of Andrew MccCutchen.
I want a refund for the month of hand-wringing frustration brought on by regular plate appearances handed to Robinson.