Tyler Wade tweeted out a picture of himself in Florida on Monday, expressing his excitement to report to spring training and get back to work for the Yankees. The team seems excited to have him back as well, considering that they passed on bringing back multiple potential backup infielders due to the promise they still see in Wade.
So far, Wade hasn’t given the Yankees much tangible evidence to reward their high hopes for him, especially not last season, when he finished with a 31 OPS+ over 36 games. The Yankees feel that the illness Wade battled early in the season doomed his campaign from the start. Is giving him another chance to provide a spark off the bench in 2019 the best route for the team?
As Kento pointed out back in December, Wade has shown little, if nothing at all, at the major league level aside from elite speed and an average glove. At the plate, he’s struggled mightily. In a similar workload in 2017, Wade managed to post an OPS+ of 19, and 2018 wasn’t much better. Sure, he’s only just turned 24 years old, but the former fourth-round pick has to show something soon before the Yanks move on, right?
Considering Wade isn’t arbitration eligible until 2021, the Yankees seem content with seeing how he bounces back in 2019. There were other options for the Yankees to bring back, and seeing how Neil Walker signed with the Marlins for just $2 million, and the Mets grabbed Adeiny Hechavarria on a minor league deal, there were seemingly better options that would have barely cost the Yankees anything in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Walker struggled badly in the first half of last season with a 54 wRC+, but he signed incredibly late into last offseason and may have needed to shake off rust. Walker certainly did improve as the season wore on, posting a 112 wRC+ in the second half, right in line with his career norms.
Meanwhile, Hechavarria didn’t turn any heads at the plate, but his elite defense could have been enough to keep him around, especially since his bat wasn’t any worse than Wade’s. Plus, he made plays like this:
Nevertheless, the Yankees passed on a reunion with both utility infielders, and it seems like Wade will be that guy come Opening Day. The question is, will he get enough playing time to settle in against major league pitching and finally flash some potential at the plate? Even with an injured Didi Gregorius, the Bombers still have two bats competing at first base, Troy Tulowitzki and Gleyber Torres at short, Torres and DJ LeMahieu at second, and Miguel Andujar at third. Once Gregorius returns, the opportunity for playing time will decrease even more for Wade.
In what feels like a “show-me” type season for Wade, it’s tough to see how much of an opportunity he’ll have to show the Yankees his worth. Nevertheless, the Yankees seem committed to giving him another shot. At the very least, I suppose he makes for a great pinch-runner.