A good fan should never give up on their favorite team because, as Andy Dufresne taught us in The Shawshank Redemption, hope is a good thing. However, this lackluster version of the Yankees inspires no such hope, so it might be worth thinking about next year. The team will again have to address their right field situation in 2015. They thought they had shored it up over the winter by signing Carlos Beltran to a three-year contract, yet in a turn of events that has surprised nobody, Beltran's aging body proved incapable of handling an everyday role in the field.
After watching the 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki struggle to fill the position, they again thought they had taken care of it as part of their trade deadline strategy to acquire a shortstop to play second base and an infielder to play right field. Since then, Martin Prado has settled in at second base, which brings them back to square one in right field. So what are their options heading into 2015?
Bring back Ichiro
If the Yankees were willing to sign a 39-year-old Ichiro to an eight-figure, two-year contract, they'll certainly be willing sign the 41-year-old Ichiro to a one-year deal. According to wRC+, Ichiro has been the most offensively inept right fielder in Major League Baseball over the past two seasons. It seems that the only people who've failed to recognize this are the Yankees' decision makers. Their unhealthy love of Ichiro is mind-boggling to say the least, but the heart wants what it wants, logic be damned. It would almost make sense if they bring him back next year. Maybe.
Promote from within
There are a handful of players in the Yankees organization that have hit well, played right field, and spent time in Triple-A this season. Only two of these players, Zoilo Almonte and Adonis Garcia, are true outfielders by trade. Almonte has not impressed during his brief stints in the Bronx over the past two seasons, but the 29-year-old Garcia has been mashing in Scranton all year. It will be interesting to see if he gets called up this September. Rookie Zelous Wheeler was called up last month to fill in at third base but the Yankees are currently auditioning him in right field. The two candidates with the biggest upside potential are also infielders who have spent time in right field. Jose Pirela has spent the entire year at Triple-A while Rob Refsnyder has split his year between Double-A and Triple-A, impressing at each level. Unfortunately, Brian Cashman has already confirmed that we won't be seeing him in the big leagues this year.
Sign a free agent
The list of 2015 free agent outfielders is chock full of guys in their mid-to-late thirties whose best days are well behind them. That's exactly the type of free agent the Yankees have targeted over the past couple of years, but there are some decent options. Melky Cabrera is still relatively young and would be welcomed back to the Bronx with open arms. Michael Cuddyer can still hit, though moving him away from Colorado would certainly take some pop out of his bat. The current MLB home run leader, Nelson Cruz, will also be available, but he's really a one-trick pony that will come with a high price tag. Despite these better options, the Yankees' recent track record tells us that they're already getting set to wine and dine Torii Hunter as soon as the World Series is over.
The Yankees' best route would probably be to let the kids duke it out in spring training. It would be nice to see a home grown player like Refsnyder or Pirela get rewarded with an everyday gig come next April, but that might not happen. What do you think the Yankees should do in right field next year?