When the Yankees acquired Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies, the trade was largely viewed as an insurance policy simply because of the sheer talent already on the team. Not much was expected of Tauchman besides filling a bench role, but if needed, his minor league numbers left one feeling optimistic. Between 2017 and 2018, Tauchman accumulated more than 470 plate appearances and hit for a 138 wRC+.
After essentially being a pinch-hitter for the Rockies, Tauchman finally got his chance to play in the big leagues every day as a rash of injuries decimated the Yankees’ roster. So far, Tauchman has been a reliable outfielder while producing a 107 wRC+. Not exactly 138, but regression is expected when being promoted to an everyday spot at the major-league level.
The biggest difference for Tauchman has been his strikeout percentage. Since joining the majors, Tauchman has finished both seasons with a strikeout number over 30%, while in the minors he never finished a season with a rate over 21%. However, since May 5th, Tauchman has been able to lower his strikeout rate to 24.6%, showing a small glimpse into what he is capable of doing. In 57 plate appearances since, Tauchman has hit for a 170 wRC+, an ISO of .220, and a 12.3% walk rate.
It’ll be extremely difficult for him to continue that 170 wRC+ production, but it gives evaluators a clue of the type of player Tauchman can be. He can take his walks to avoid a low on-base percentage, provide an isolated power mark around of .200, and hit for a BABIP over .300. All of these traits are great, and with more plate appearances, the Bombers will continue to learn exactly what they have in him.
With the Yankees currently looking to trade for a pitcher, many scenarios are possible. Tauchman’s importance to the team could instantly increase with a Clint Frazier trade. The outfield depth further shrinks when one remembers that Brett Gardner’s contract will end after the season. Or perhaps Tauchman could be traded and Frazier assumes this role with Estevan Florial climbing the ladder.
His trade value might not be as high as Frazier’s, but Tauchman could be the third piece in a trade for a pitcher. He might not have a high ceiling, but he doesn’t have a low floor. He’s shown to be an average hitter who can find his way on base, currently swinging at pitches outside the zone at the lowest rate of all Yankees with a minimum of 100 plate appearances. If a team is looking to control a ready-made, left-handed outfielder, then Tauchman could very well be the guy.
Whichever scenario happens, or if neither happen, it’s important to understand the opportunity a fourth outfielder has playing for the Yankees. You don’t have to look much further than Gardner and his 91 games with 350 plate appearances to understand how demanding the role is. Giancarlo Stanton has a history of injuries, and Aaron Judge now has two consecutive seasons where he has missed more than a month. This roster spot is a crucial one, there will be plenty of at-bats to go around. Tauchman could very well end up filling the role come 2020.