Yankees designate Willie Calhoun to open a roster spot for Aaron Judge

Willie Calhoun of the New York Yankees

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On Friday, the Yankees designated Willie Calhoun on assignment. This was created keeping in view the impending return of Aaron Judge. With Calhoun out of the roster, the Yankees captain will have a place in the crowded outfield.

The team made an announcement regarding this. They reinstated Willie Calhoun from the injured list but took the decision to designate him for assignment. He had been on a rehab assignment in Double-A, but due to being out of minor league options, the team faced a crucial choice. Once his rehab was completed, they had to either add him back to the big league roster or designate Willie Calhoun for assignment. Opting for the DFA route, the Yankees now have until Tuesday to explore potential trade options for him, or else he will be placed on outright or release waivers.

Adding to the outfield complexity, reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge is expected to return from the injured list tonight, further crowding the Yankees’ outfield situation. To bring Calhoun back onto the roster, the team could have let go of any of Billy McKinney, Jake Bauers, or Greg Allen. However, McKinney and Bauers have outperformed Willie Calhoun this season, and Allen offers valuable attributes, including a strong glove and the ability to back up in center field.

Willie Calhoun is talented but failed to live up to expectations

Willie Calhoun is seen the Yankees game against Boston at Yankee Stadium, June 10, 2023.

Now 28 years old, Willie Calhoun was once highly regarded as one of the top minor-league talents in the sport. However, he has not lived up to the offensive expectations that were associated with him as a bat-first prospect. Signing a minor league deal with the Yankees in the offseason, Willie Calhoun has produced a .239/.309/.403 batting line (96 wRC+) in 149 plate appearances. On a positive note, he has shown a keen eye at the plate with an above-average 9.4% walk rate and a lower-than-average 13.4% strikeout rate, indicating strong bat-to-ball skills. Additionally, Willie Calhoun boasts impressive numbers with a 90.7 mph average exit velocity and a 42.6% hard-hit rate, showcasing his ability to make solid contact.

Having battled a strained left quad since June 22, the 28-year-old Willie Calhoun found himself on the injured list. However, on July 20, the Yankees sent him on a rehab assignment to aid his recovery. For position players like him, rehab assignments can extend up to 20 days, allowing the Yankees the option to let him continue playing in the minors even beyond the deadline if they wished. Nevertheless, a significant factor in this situation is Willie Calhoun’s lack of minor-league options, which implies that he cannot be sent back to a minor-league affiliate without first going through waivers. Given these circumstances, all indications are pointing toward the Yankees seeking a new destination for Willie Calhoun in the upcoming days.

Initially experiencing a slow start to the season with lackluster production, Willie Calhoun began to show signs of improvement just as he suffered the quad strain. However, the decisive factor that likely led to him losing his roster spot was his defensive abilities, which were not considered strong enough.

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