Most of us have seen the film Angels in the Outfield, but the Yankees seem to be producing a movie called Injuries in the Outfield. To put it simply, the Bombers did not receive the greatest of news on Tuesday, with both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge not expected to be healthy for Opening Day.
The loss of two of their bigger bats is certainly not start to the 2020 season the Bombers were looking for. The scope of the outfield has significantly changed since the start of the spring. Without Judge, Stanton, and Aaron Hicks in the lineup, that now opens up opportunity for many different players on the team such as Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar. But what if the Yankees don’t feel “comfortable” with the in-house options they have? Well, they could give a call to The Wild Horse.
The 29-year-old Yasiel Puig is still sitting in free agency and the Yankees seem like they could use some help towards their outfield depth. Taking a flyer on Puig on a one-year deal is something that could interest New York, especially since he won’t break the bank.
Puig is coming off a down year in which he played for both the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. He posted a 1.2 fWAR in 2019, with a 101 wRC+ and 100 OPS+, which are all numbers that hover around average. For a short and cheap contract, the Yankees should give him a call.
While he hasn’t been the Puig he used to be in the last couple years, he still does a lot of things well. For example, he hits the ball nearly 90 mph on average. The faster the exit velocity, the higher percentage of getting on base. He also has the skill to recognize fastballs and breaking pitches pretty well, as his wOBA on those pitches last year were .337 and .338 respectively.
Another huge aspect of his game is his ability to stay healthy and on the field. This is obviously something that many players on the Yankees haven’t done, which is why a possible Puig signing is something to talk about in the first place. He’s played over 100 games in six out of his seven seasons in the majors, including over 125 games a season since 2017.
For what it’s worth, Puig has great numbers when playing in Yankee Stadium. In eight career games in the Bronx, he owns a .345 batting average, with a 1.148 OPS and three home runs. That’s obviously a super small sample size, but playing in a hitters park never hurts when at the plate.
With injuries wiping out nearly 50 percent of the outfield, the Yankees could use a veteran presence like Puig, especially if he comes with a cheap price tag. The down side in signing him would be that Frazier would most likely be the one who gets bumped from the major-league team. The way Frazier’s spring goes could also be a deciding factor on whether or not the Yankees will pursue Puig.