Tyler Wade has been able to show some of his useful tools at the major league level over the last three seasons as he has ridden the shuttle back and forth from the Bronx to Triple-A Scranton. His defensive versatility combined with elite speed have given fans a glimpse of a potentially solid bench player who could fill numerous roles. Despite a glimmer of hope for his offensive ability to finish 2019, Wade enters 2020 with a career -0.7 fWAR due to his poor hitting performance through his first 241 major league plate appearances.
2019 Stats: 108 PA; .245/.330/.362; 11 RBI; 88 wRC+; 25.9 K%; 10.2 BB%, 0.3 fWAR
2020 Depth Charts Projection: 140 PA, .230/.295/.340, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 69 wRC+, 25 K%, 7.6 BB%, 0.0 fWAR
Wade’s lack of production over the last three seasons at the major league level is reflected in the projections that show him as the definition of a replacement level player. The 140 plate appearances would be a career high for Wade, and were based on a 162-game season, that almost certainly will not happen at this point.
The 25-year-old Wade has several things working in his favor for the upcoming 2020 season. This will be the first time he is coming off a run of consistent hitting at the major league level as he finished strong by hitting .289/.347/533 over his last 23 games in 2019.
Major League Baseball is also introducing the 26th man on the roster for this coming season, a role that seems tailor made for Tyler Wade. Wade has played six defensive positions over the last three seasons in the major leagues, including shortstop and centerfield, two of the more difficult positions to man at the highest levels. The Yankees have a strong philosophy of giving players regular rest, and Wade’s ability to step in any day of the week at numerous positions gives him an avenue to playing time.
Wade’s greatest asset might be his speed, which ranks in the 93rd percentile of major leaguers. His poor offensive production has limited his opportunities to utilize it in games to this point in his career. Last season he stole 20 bases in 25 attempts between Triple-A Scranton and the major leagues. He was a perfect seven for seven at the major league level. Wade’s speed is another factor that could get him into games late as he could become a key pinch running asset.
This spring Wade struggled through camp, leading many to speculate if non-roster invitee Rosell Herrera or Thairo Estrada, who is on the 40-man roster, could swoop in and steal the 26th roster spot, and utility role. Wade still has a minor-league option and the Yankees could choose to send him back to Triple-A where he has spent the majority of his time since the beginning of the 2017 season. That is a possibility, but the Yankees have seen Wade put together impressive spring trainings in the past, and then not translate the result to the games that matter. Even if Wade begins in the minors he will certainly be on the short-list of players to get called up early when the inevitable injuries hit the team.
Tyler Wade has the potential to be a contributing piece to the Yankees’ roster in 2020. His defensive versatility, and elite speed give him multiple pathways to playing time. Wade must out-hit his projections for this coming season, as there are worthy challengers for his roster spot inside the organization.