Despite a killer spring training, Tyler Wade didn’t spend a ton of time in the majors this year, but when he did, he was much more effective than he was in either of the last two seasons. In 43 games, Wade provided defensive versatility, speed on the bases, and wasn’t an automatic out at the plate. He’s likely still not in the conversation for a starting spot in the Yankee lineup, but his set of skills could be useful.
2019 Statistics: 43 games, 108 plate appearances, .245/.330/.362, 2 home runs, 16 runs, 7/7 stolen bases, 88 wRC+, 0.3 WAR
2020 Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible
During spring training, it seemed as if Tyler Wade had a legitimate shot at starting the year with the big league roster. With Aaron Hicks on the injured list, the Yankees needed some additional help off the bench, and Wade made a real case for himself, putting up a .308/.345/.500 slash line. On the final day of cuts, it was Wade, not Mike Tauchman that packed his bags for Scranton. The Yankees wanted a more-experienced outfielder, and Wade was “very pissed” about the decision.
Wade was up with the team for their fifth game of the year, but he didn’t last long. He spent 18 games with the Yankees before being sent back down to Triple-A. To start the season, Wade showcased his ability to play multiple positions and flashed his speed on the bases. He had at least one appearance at five different positions -- second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and right field. He spent most of his time at second though.
For the value the speedy utility player gave the team, his mostly-terrible offensive performance couldn’t stave off a minor league demotion. His slash line in those 18 games was .227/.333/.227. His OBP was mostly due to drawing walks at a 13.5% clip, which is fairly remarkable considering Wade hits almost exclusively out of the nine-hole. Still, his 62 wRC+ that month was just untenable. Wade went down to Scranton and only appeared in seven big league games between May and August.
When Wade re-emerged from the minors for good in September, a red-hot performance at the plate saved his offensive line for the year. Wade had 11 hits in 37 at-bats, including 2 doubles, a triple, and a homer. He also had a 9.8% walk rate, and he dropped an April K-rate of 34.6% to 19.5% in September. All told, it was a performance worth 126 wRC+, making it the best month of Wade’s major league career.
This performance, combined no doubt with Wade’s speed and defensive versatility, landed him a spot on the Yankees’ ALDS roster. He didn’t get to appear in the series, but his inclusion was most definitely a sign that Wade could have a place on a big league roster if he could just hit enough.
Hitting will always be the issue with Wade. Thanks to his speed, he could likely sustain a higher-than-normal BABIP, but his career 29% K-rate has kept him from sticking on the Yankees’ roster for any sustained length of time.
Wade earned a C+ grade from the PSA staff, and that C+ is a big step up from the D+ he earned last year. Future C+ performances probably won’t land Wade a full-time big league job, but it could be enough for him to land on the Yankees’ bench for an extended period of time. If he can avoid being an automatic out at the plate, Yankee fans could see a lot of Wade in 2020.