Worrying about a host of injuries dragging down a team is an issue typically reserved until at least midseason. The 2019 Yankees are running through their injury gauntlet immediately, however, and will have to find their footing with a host of key contributors out of the picture. Most seem like temporary setbacks, but one in particular could keep a top player out for a while.
The latest groan-inducing news broke yesterday, with superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton going onto the 10-day injured list due to a biceps strain. Before the day had even concluded third baseman Miguel Andujar had joined him with a strained shoulder. Andujar’s injury is of far more concern here, as he reportedly tore his labrum and surgery will be an option to weigh. Replacing their production for a few weeks will be tough, yet doable. Replacing a player like Andujar for the season, however, would inflict a major blow to the team.
Assuming Andujar is out for a significant amount of time, DJ LeMahieu is poised to shift from super utilityman to everyday third baseman. LeMahieu is good enough to hold down the fort, and will likely contribute at a consistent enough rate, but putting him into the lineup daily has ripple effects of their own. Having LeMahieu on the field means that there isn’t a natural replacement for Gleyber Torres, so he will have to stay put in the four hole instead of covering for Troy Tulowitzki occasionally. Then there’s Tulo himself, who the plan seemingly called for regularly scheduled days off to maintain his health.
The solution to these problems arrives in the form of Tyler Wade. The 24-year-old will get his chance a lot earlier than he probably expected after getting sent down to Triple-A to start the year. Wade had a tremendous spring, but was snubbed from the majors at the end due to concerns with his defense, which is the opposite of the script for Wade’s career so far. He has struggled in his short stints with the Yankees previously, thanks in some part to the inconsistent amount of at-bats available for him. That said, this is as big of an opportunity as he is likely to get. If this spring wasn’t a fluke, he may work his way into the Yankees plans this season. If not, it may be his final opportunity.
Should Wade falter, there is no clear option waiting in the wings. Perhaps a minor leaguer impresses during the season to get some consideration, but the far more likely play would be to look for a stand-in on the trade market. Perhaps Brian Cashman will already begin that process as a backup, much like he did earlier in the season by preemptively getting Mike Tauchman to give the outfield another candidate. Either way, a trade can’t be ruled out as the Yankees will need plenty of depth on the left side of the infield, even when Didi Gregorius returns.