Assessing Yankees’ left field impasse after Bryan Reynolds goes off the table

Bryan Reynolds is at Dodger Stadium during a game against the LA Dodgers.

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The Yankees can no longer count on Bryan Reynolds, the player who was supposed to solve their left-field dilemma. They have tried to rotate various players at the position, but none have fared particularly well.

On Tuesday, the Pirates locked up Bryan Reynolds, their left fielder of choice, to a long-term contract. The rumors that the Yankees would try to trade for him this summer died when the team agreed to pay him $106.75 million over the next eight years.

Bryan Reynolds was the Yankees’ top target

Since the summer, the Yankees have been monitoring Bryan Reynolds, a left-handed batter with considerable potential. There was hope for a deal after he requested a move.

The Pirates’ exorbitant asking price apparently scared off any interested teams, though, because no Bryan Reynolds trade was ever finalized. So, during spring training, the Yankees had to decide who would play in left field. Aaron Hicks lost to Oswaldo Cabrera, and since then, Cabrera has started 14 of the Yankees’ first 24 games there.

Aaron Hicks and Oswald Cabrera

However, the adaptable Cabrera hasn’t been at his best through the first month of the season and he has not been an alternative to Bryan Reynolds so far.

The Yankees’ collective left fielders had a -0.6 fWAR, second-worst in the majors only to the Royals. Through 23 games, the Yankees’ left fielders — Aaron Hicks, Franchy Cordero, and others — had hit .182 with an OPS of .461.

“It’s overall been a little bit of a struggle [for Cabrera] to get going, get hot offensively,” manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday before the Yankees played the Twins at Target Field. “But that said, within that, he’s gotten some big hits for us. Defensively he’s played really well. Had a tough chance [Monday] night that he didn’t make a play on, a play that he should make. But otherwise, that defensive versatility has shown itself. I think he’s played well. He’s been good on the bases. He’s picked good spots to run.”

“It’s just a matter of getting settled and getting going the way I think he’s capable of offensively too.”

Cabrera had an OPS of.629 after his first 12 games in the majors. But in the next eight games, he hit just 3 of 29 (.103) with an OPS of.375, all the way up until Tuesday. In addition, in 74 at-bats this year, he had only two walks. Boone has stated that he needs to modify his approach to strike zone management.

Who else the Yankees can rely on?

Cordero also contributed to the Yankees’ 6-1 loss to the Twins on Monday by making an error in right field. Up before Tuesday, he had gone 3-for-32 with 13 strikeouts in his previous 11 games.

“We just gotta continue to work with him,” Boone said. “I think he’s very aware of how well he can impact the ball and what he’s capable of. We gotta continue to help him try to make little adjustments that hopefully continue to get him to another level as a player that matches up with the ability that’s in there.”

Hicks has struggled in his little game time as well. On Tuesday, however, he began the game for the second time in a row. He managed a.107 average and a.301 OPS in 12 games.

Yankees Aaron Judge and Aaron Boone look on as their offense fail against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on April 23, 2023.

There was hope that Aaron Judge could solve some of the Yankees’ left fielding issues. He proposed playing some games at Yankee Stadium, with Giancarlo Stanton in right field and one of their extra infielders hitting in the designated hitter role.

Instead, the spring experiment has yet to be carried over into the regular season, as both Stanton and Harrison Bader are currently on the injured list with hamstring strains that will keep them out until the end of May and Judge was called upon to play center field in Bader’s absence due to Bader’s injury.

Now that the possibility of obtaining Bryan Reynolds has been dashed, Cabrera, Hicks, and Cordero have a chance to create a rhythm before Bader and Stanton return.

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