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Yankees 2024 Season Preview: Jasson Domínguez

What to expect from a returning Martian?

Milwaukee Brewers v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

One of the hardest guys on the roster to project for 2024, Jasson Domínguez had a rip roaring debut — for all of eight games — before being sidelined with Tommy John surgery. The center fielder will spend a chunk of the year rehabbing his rebuilt elbow, and the Yankees themselves seem to be tamping down expectations.

2023 statistics: 8 games, 33 plate appearances, .258/.303/.677, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 162 wRC+, 6.1 BB%, 24.2 K%,-2 Defensive Runs Saved, 0 Outs Above Average, 0.3 fWAR

2024 ZiPS projections: 131 games, 591 plate appearances, .231/.308/.377, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 91 wRC+, 9.8 BB%, 28.3 K%, 1.4 fWAR

ZiPS seems to favor a May-ish return for Domínguez, with the depressed performance that we’ve seen from players coming back from similar procedures, like Bryce Harper. The Yankees themselves seem to disagree with this projection, based on their own most recent update on the Martian:

Now this may be semantics, but returning “in the summer” doesn’t sound like he’ll be able to get into 131 games. If he returns at the All-Star break, that leaves about 75 games, if he returns mid-June, we may get 100 games of the Martian.

I think I’m okay with this. Yesterday was Jasson’s 21st birthday and he has 30 days of MLB service. The Yankees have completely overhauled their outfield this winter, with Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham joining Aaron Judge in an outfield class that’s a damn sight better than what the team featured in 2023. There’s time to make sure Domínguez is truly 100 percent.

I think that’s also for the best for his development. The eight games we got out of Jasson in 2023 mean we can’t draw any real conclusions from his performance, other than we got some really fun memories:

Like Anthony Volpe, Domínguez more or less went right from Double-A to the majors — Volpe had 99 PA in Scranton, Jasson just 37 — and I think we saw that Tony Fox was just a little unprepared for the higher class of competition. We can use this as a lesson then, that since the Yankees have so much time with Domínguez on the shelf, why not keep him on it another three weeks if there’s a hitch in his swing or something similar that would naturally come with rehabbing an elbow.

When he returns I’m going to expect more than league-average production, and that should be ok. Perhaps no prospect in recent Yankee history has evaluators so divided, with some believing in the very real pop, some focusing on body type and athleticism concerns, while others still have prospect fatigue despite Jasson again being just 21. I want him in center for as long as would be responsible in 2024, hitting sixth or seventh in a lineup as a regular contributor but not expected to carry the team.

I’m not going to be foolish enough to try and project a stat line for a guy with 17 games above Somerset. If Domínguez can get into 100 games, split between center and DH, and show plus power and an ability to control strikeouts, he should be an above-average hitter and display a clear line of progress. After getting healthy, that should be the 2024 goal.