As we watch the Judge-less Yankees march out a third-place in the division, bottom-ten offense in the league, why not look elsewhere? There are plenty of recent former members of the pinstripes around the league, some of whom have found some solid success. I may be in the minority, but I don’t mind seeing this happen. It may be frustrating, but in a lot of cases, it felt like things just weren’t going to work out in the Bronx. Nonetheless, let’s check in on some of our recent friends.
Aaron Hicks (Orioles)
Hicks was cut loose by the Yankees near the end of May, after what was honestly a miserable few years. He put up a wRC+ well under 100 in 2021-22, and put up an unplayable mark of 49 in his time with the Yankees in 2023. He was picked up by the Orioles, and through 16 games, has had a bit of a renaissance. He’s already launched a pair of homers (something he couldn’t seem to buy in New York), and has tripled his extra-base hit total on the year in the very limited time. He has a 178 wRC+ with the Birds, and is hitting in a way we really haven’t seen in years. His time with the Yankees was seemingly done no matter what, so I’m glad to see the guy possibly finding his groove again, even if it’s elsewhere.
Gary Sánchez (Padres)
After struggling to even find a team to play for, Sánchez made a brief stop in Queens, but now finds himself in Southern California with the Padres. In 18 games there, he’s already hit six homers, and owns a 112 wRC+. That number isn’t exactly eye-popping, but the 30-year-old has only topped 100 twice since his elite 2017 with the Yanks. I have been a long supporter of him at least being a rosterable player, even just going on his massive power, so it’s good to see him (at least for now) use some of that ability we came to know years ago.
Joey Gallo (Twins)
The Joey Gallo experience was not a good one in New York. As much as we all wanted it to work out, it just never did. After some time with the Dodgers in 2022, he signed a one-year deal with Minnesota, and seems to have recaptured some of his fascinating skillset. The big lefty has been on the injured list twice, and still has his patented .191 batting average. But, in 51 games, he’s launched 11 homers and has a 118 wRC+, a figure he never came close to in the Bronx. He’ll always be who he is (a fun guy to watch, in my humble opinion), so it’s nice to see him be the good version himself again.
Jordan Montgomery (Cardinals)
Shipped off to St. Louis in the Harrison Bader trade last deadline, Jordan Montgomery has very much been himself. In 78.1 innings this year, the lefty has a 3.91 ERA and a 3.62 FIP, numbers right in line with what he’s done for much of his career. At the time of the trade, it was a bit of a head-scratcher, but now seeing what Bader is capable of, it seems to have worked out fairly well for both sides. The problem for St. Louis is that he’s one of the few pitchers on their staff doing much of anything.
Aroldis Chapman (Royals)
In perhaps one of the bigger surprises of the year, Aroldis Chapman seems to be back in Kansas City. After what was a pretty bad 2022 with the Yankees, certainly his time in the Bronx and maybe his time in the big leagues seemed to be winding down. In 2023, however, with a new squad, he seems to have returned to form. He has a 1.75 FIP, ranks in the top 10 relievers by fWAR, and somehow is throwing his sinker harder than ever (101.5 mph) and his four-seamer the hardest he has since 2017 (99.5 mph). Expect him to find a new home at the Trade Deadline, though considering how everything ended for him in the Bronx, it’d be shocking to see him return to pinstripes.
Jameson Taillon (Cubs)
On the less positive side of things, Jameson Taillon has not found his footing in the Windy City. After signing a four-year deal with the Cubs this offseason, the veteran righty is having what would be a career-worst season. Among starters with 50 innings pitched, his 6.71 ERA is the sixth-worst mark in the majors. He is also maintaining career-worst strikeout and walk rates in 2023. He has been consistent enough in his career that it wouldn’t be surprising to see him find success, but the start of his career on the North Side has not been a good one.
Matt Carpenter (Padres)
The 37-year-old’s Barry Bonds-like stretch in 2022 was one of the best stories for the Yankees’ season. It resurrected Carpenter’s career, and ultimately netted him a two-year deal with San Diego, something that would’ve been hard to believe prior to his run in ‘22. His recovered success has not translated to the West Coast yet, however, as he has returned to the level of production that once seemed to point to the end of a career. Carpenter has a 79 wRC+ with the Dads, and is sporting a OBP below .300. It would be nice to see him get his footing again, but it would be nearly impossible to match what he did in pinstripes. If nothing else, his performance now helps emphasize how special his time with the Yankees was.
Andrew Benintendi (White Sox)
Like Taillon, Benintendi has been one of the least impressive signings of the offseason, albeit not as drastically. He has a 93 wRC+ in 69 games with only one homer to his name. On the surface, that wouldn’t be terrible, but considering that this is the start of a five-year deal, the disappointing White Sox need a lot more from him if they hope to sneak back into contention in a weak division.
Gio Urshela (Angels)
Urshela found himself on the move for the second offseason in a row, as after being dealt from the Bronx to Minnesota in March 2022 as part of the Sánchez/Josh Donaldson trade, the Twins shipped him off to the Halos for pitching prospect Alejandro Hidalgo last November. The highlight-reel specialist had a 94 wRC+ in a familiar utilityman role before sustaining a pelvic fracture last week that landed him on the IL.