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Yankees activate Aaron Judge, option Nestor Cortes Jr. to Triple-A

Judge returns and Maybin sticks around—Christmas came early!

MLB: AL Wild Card-Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Friday brings great news on many fronts for Yankees fans, as Aaron Judge is back. The club announced his activation earlier this afternoon, and he will slot into the lineup later tonight. As a corresponding move, the team optioned left-handed reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge, 27, landed on the injured list with an oblique strain he suffered on April 20 against the Royals. He hit a sixth inning single and immediately grimaced in pain; he departed from the game shortly thereafter. The Yankees played a remarkable 54 games in his absence, ascending to first place in the division in the process. It’s been a long time without the right fielder.

In limited time this season, Judge hit .288/.404/.521 with five home runs. His 145 wRC+ looked right in line with last year’s numbers (149 wRC+). While he wasn’t hitting at his 2017 levels, Judge still represented one of the game’s most imposing power threats. His presence in the lineup cannot go understated.

On the subject of lineups, many have posted their own configurations, and they all look dangerous. It’s difficult to go wrong when the Yankees have impact bats from top to bottom. I’m partial to the idea of stacking the likes of Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion, and Luke Voit early in the lineup. Make the opposing pitcher face his nightmares right out of the game.

As for the corresponding move, Cortes pitched three innings last night, meaning he won’t be available for a few days. The team exercised his option and carried the fan-favorite Cameron Maybin (owner of a 137 wRC+, mind you) alongside Judge and the rest of the outfielders. This arrangement could work out for a little while, too, especially when one considers the London Series has built-in days off. Fans get to have it all, both Judge and Maybin on the active roster.

The excitement is building now, and I can imagine what it will be like when Judge finally steps into the batter’s box.