The Yankees want to get younger and more athletic in the outfield. Will that lead to a big-name signing in free agency to shake up the starting lineup?
Not much attention is being paid to the construction of the Yankees’ starting outfield in 2021. That might prove to be a mistake. It’s clear that Brian Cashman and his front office would like to shake things up by adding some youth and athleticism to the mix. The question is whether or not New York has the financial flexibility required to make that happen this offseason.
The good news for Aaron Boone and his coaching staff is that they have quality options returning. Even if Brett Gardner doesn’t re-sign, there is enough returning talent on the roster to form a quality group.
The Yankees do need to pay special attention to building depth in the outfield. Giancarlo Stanton will be used as a DH almost exclusively next season. For all of Aaron Judge’s on-field brilliance, his injury history is starting to become an issue in the Bronx. New York needs to have five outfielders on the roster they feel comfortable starting meaningful games in 2021.
That quantity will equal competition for the three starting spots. The projection starts with an obvious choice in right field.
Right field-Aaron Judge
The Yankees can only be at their best if Judge is healthy and playing every day in right field. His massive power bat strikes fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. His cannon for an arm allows him to profile as a plus-outfielder defensively.
As long as he stays off the Injured List, he’s going to be in Boone’s lineup for every important game. The idea of trading Judge might be an interesting thought exercise, but it’s not going to happen this offseason. The only meaningful question about Judge’s role in 2021 is how many games he stays healthy enough to start. The franchise needs him to play up to his MVP level potential for 120+ games to reach their full potential.