The Yankees have slumped in the past couple weeks after a pretty good start to the season that saw them undefeated in series until mid-April. The complexion of the offense changed after Giancarlo Stanton made his unfortunately routine trip to the injured list on April 16th, as suddenly, there wasn’t a lot of protection for leading sluggers Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo. The lineup was held to three runs or fewer in 10 out of 12 games between April 13th and April 25th, and usually, it was fewer.
So per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, the Yankees are reportedly turning to Jake Bauers, one of their best hitters in Triple-A, to possibly see what he can do.
Hearing Jake Bauers is getting called up from Scranton.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) April 28, 2023
I wrote more on Bauers yesterday:https://t.co/Ty7c4k3U79
Fellow beat reporter Joel Sherman later clarified that Bauers would only be joining the taxi squad for now, as his potential activation is tied to Judge’s health.
Bauers has been with the Yankees’ organization since they acquired him in a quiet trade with the Reds last June, and he re-upped with them during the offseason on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
After hitting .407/.433/.444 in camp, the Yankees sent Bauers back to Triple-A (as expected), but the 27-year-old lefty has been simply mashing in International League play. He’s hitting .319/.460/.812 in 21 games with nine homers to go along with a 211 wRC+. It’s quite an improvement from the .226/.352/.406 line he posted last year in Scranton across 32 games after being dealt by Cincinnati.
Reasonable expectations should be set. Bauers has not accomplished much in The Show when given a chance in the past. He sits at .213/.307/.348 with 27 homers and an 82 wRC+ in 328 games with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Seattle between 2018-21.
Still, it’s perfectly fair to seriously consider giving Bauers a shot after what he’s done in Triple-A, and more importantly, how little his competition has done in the majors. Acquired at the end of spring training, Franchy Cordero came on strong with four homers and an .800 slugging percentage over his first seven games, but has essentially stopped hitting entirely since then. He’s reached based exactly once (on a single) in his last 25 plate appearances, with no walks. Former top Rangers prospect Willie Calhoun was an NRI alongside Bauers in camp, but he’s hit an empty .226/.273/.258 in 33 plate appearances, a 51 wRC+ that is only a bit worse than Franchy’s first-week fueled 63.
The Yankees need to at least try something different, particularly with Stanton down, Harrison Bader still on a rehab assignment, and Judge now banged up as well; he seems unlikely to play again during this series in Texas with hip discomfort (the captain also underwent an MRI today). Bauers isn’t a defensive stalwart, but with Stanton out, he could simply DH or cover corner outfield spots. Cordero and Calhoun weren’t exactly vintage Brett Gardner out there anyway.
Another Triple-A slugger who might have merited consideration is infield prospect Andrés Chaparro, who is new to the level after 64 games in Double-A Somerset in 2022. The 23-year-old has had the power to match Bauers with eight dingers, but his overall line sits at .218/.284/.517 with a 93 wRC+ and he doesn’t play any outfield. Chaparro also strikes out more and walks less than Bauers, so his eye is probably not quite ready for MLB-caliber pitching just yet.
As Sherman noted, the Yankees might activate Bauers based on the results of Judge’s MRI. Franchy Cordero was demoted from the Yankees to Triple-A after Friday night’s game, but we’ll keep you posted on any other corresponding roster moves.
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees made the following roster moves:— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) April 29, 2023
•Signed INF/OF Jake Bauers (#61) to a Major League contract and selected him to the active roster.
•Transferred RHP Lou Trivino to the 60-day injured list.
There’s the official move. Bauers will be active and could start Saturday night’s game in Texas, as the spot on the active roster had been cleared by Cordero’s demotion. New York also cleared room on the 40-man roster by sending ailing reliever Lou Trivino to the 60-day IL, as he suffered a setback in his elbow strain rehab and his season might be in jeopardy.
And here’s the Yankees news regarding Judge. It’s not an IL situation just yet.
Judge has a mild strain at the top of his hip, Boone said. Yankees will wait a couple of days to see if he continues to improve and if he can avoid an IL stint. They hope to make a decision by Monday.— JackCurryYES (@JackCurryYES) April 29, 2023