The Yankees continue their West Coast road trip with a series up in Seattle this weekend, where they will be reunited with an old friend. Ben Gamel will also be there.
In all seriousness, since getting traded to Seattle, Gamel has turned himself into a pretty solid player. In retrospect, the return the Yankees got for him seems a little light, although Juan De Paula was part of it. He was just included in the Andrew McCutchen trade, after all.
The Yankees, however, weren’t likely to get any more than what they actually received. The reason for that is Aaron Judge’s call-up in late 2016. The Yankees were always more likely to give playing time to their top prospect than the lower-rated one, even if Gamel did debut before Judge. There was no spot for Gamel in the majors in 2016 or beyond, even though he had just won International League MVP. His stock was as high as it ever was going to be as a part of the Yankees’ organization.
Like Gamel, several other outfielders have been made surplus to requirements by Judge’s emergence. But what if the Yankees hadn’t ditched so many outfielders? What if instead of that, they ditched everyone else, and made the entire team out of outfielders they’ve traded away? I present to you, a starting nine of former Yankees’ outfielders.
First Base: Tyler Austin
The most recent departure is more known as a first baseman now, but has played over 30 career innings in the outfield. That’s also where he made his name as a prospect in the Yankees’ system.
Second Base: Rob Refsnyder
Refsnyder became a bit more highly thought of as a prospect than he should have thanks to what was happening at the major league level. He was hitting well in the upper levels of the majors, and playing second base at a time when Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew were manning the position in New York. The clamor for the Yankees to give him a chance instead of Roberts or Drew turned him into a legitimate prospect in the eyes of some, even though he was never quite that.
As for why he makes this list, he is pretty much exclusively an outfielder now. It’s where he played in college before the Yankees attempted to turn him into a second baseman. He was never exactly a great glove there, but he has more familiarity with the spot than other.
Shortstop: Mason Williams
Williams has had a reputation as a pretty good defensive outfielder at times, so we’ll pencil him in at short with the assumption that he would be better there than others. He’s played just 34 games with the Reds in 2018, which is actually the most in a season in his career. Injuries aren’t fun.
Third Base: Ben Gamel
Gamel has played a couple innings at first base for Seattle, so sure, let’s send him over to the other corner infield slot.
Left Field: Billy McKinney
So far, the Yankees-Blue Jays trade that included McKinney has been a win for both teams. J.A. Happ has put up some good numbers for the Yankees so far, while McKinney has been really good for Toronto. McKinney’s OPS is the highest he’s put up at any level in any sample size, so he might not continue to do this well in the future.
Center Field: Blake Rutherford
Rutherford arguably had the highest ceiling of anyone on this list when the Yankees traded him as a part of the David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier deal. He hasn’t been bad in the minors, but he also hasn’t put up numbers that blow you away.
Right Field: Dustin Fowler
Thankfully for him, Fowler has avoided becoming a modern Moonlight Graham, and has picked up some playing time for the Athletics this season. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t go well, as he’s put up a 67 OPS+ in nearly 200 at-bats this year. Somehow, according to WAR, he’s been worse than Sonny Gray in 2018, so and that’s never great.
Catcher: Slade Heathcott
Heathcott is no longer in organized baseball, having most recently played for the Sugar Land Skeeters. He’s been placed at catcher for no reason other than that he seems like he would have been a catcher at some point.
Pitcher: Jake Cave
One year in high school, Cave struck out 109 batters in 61 innings, while putting up a 1.23 ERA. If he doesn’t work as a starter, maybe he can be the bullpen arm and get a Jake Save.