It seems as though the injury bug has followed the Yankees into the new season. James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Aaron Hicks will all start the season on the injured list. Aaron Judge has been dealing with a shoulder issue that has kept him out of in-game action, and after playing 18 games for the Bombers in 2019, Giancarlo Stanton will likely start the new season on the shelf as well after he injured his calf while participating in defensive drills.
That is definitely not the start New York was looking for. But, as we saw last year when the Yankees got crushed with injury after injury, the team embraced the “next man up” motto and really ran with it. They had star players hit the IL, and they were replaced by guys who were unproven or had little major league experience. Just six games into spring training and they’re already in a similar situation. Instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s spin this in a positive way. There are many different Yankees that can now step up and “benefit” from this opportunity.
Will this finally be the year that Clint Frazier makes the Opening Day roster? He’s been up and down throughout his entire Yankees career and hasn’t gotten much playing time after all the hype he garnered as a prospect. Frazier, 25, is presented with what could be his best chance yet to leave a mark on this team. Red Thunder has changed his batting stance at the plate and looks ready to jump at the opportunity to stay in the big leagues. So far this spring he has a double, three walks, and a monster home run that cleared the concourse.
Clint Frazier absolutely CRUSHED this ball. pic.twitter.com/k0X1M1ekP1— YES Network (@YESNetwork) February 27, 2020
With Hicks out for a long period of time, Stanton rehabbing his calf, and Aaron Judge moving along slowly with a shoulder issue, Frazier has his best chance yet at making the Opening Day roster.
Will Andujar be a third baseman, left fielder, designated hitter, or possibly come off the bench? Well, with Stanton going down, the DH spot is now wide open and more reps are available in the outfield. Because of Gio Urshela’s breakout 2019 campaign and Miggy’s lackluster defense at the hot corner, him getting more opportunities in other positions will only help him. Like Frazier, Andujar has a double and home run thus far in spring training, and has hit the ball hard in a few other at-bats. He looks comfortable at the plate again and hopefully he can return to the 2017 version of himself.
Between Frazier, Andujar and Mike Tauchman, it may be Tauchman who will benefit the most from Stanton’s injury. Left field seemed to be an open battle mainly between Stanton and Tauchman. Obviously now plans have changed and there’s not much competition there anymore. He has only had a couple at-bats this spring, but we know he is an excellent defender as his nine outs above-average were the fourth-most in the American League last season in just 87 games played. He also owns an acceptable lefty bat, which is something the Yankees’ lineup is missing. With Stanton slated to miss some time, Tauchman is likely a shoo-in to be the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder.