Home News Yankees’ left-field situation takes another turn for worse

Yankees’ left-field situation takes another turn for worse

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Round and round the Yankees’ left field carousel goes.

Where it will stop nobody knows — though it may take a trade to finally address the issue.

Billy McKinney, who got the nod in left field for what became a 3-0 loss to the Cubs on Friday night, is the fifth different player to start there for the Yankees over the last seven games, following Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jake Bauers, Oswaldo Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton.

McKinney went 0-for-2 with a walk batting out of the seventh spot.

Bauers was taken out of the mix on Friday when he landed on the injured list with a left rotator cuff contusion stemming from a diving catch attempt in left field Wednesday.

Franchy Cordero was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a third go-round on the big league roster and got the start in right field against Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon. Cordero finished with one of the Yankees’ two hits.

Billy McKinney reacts in frustration after grounding out in the eighth inning of the Yankees’ 3-0 loss to the Cubs.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“Hopefully he can provide a little spark for us up here,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Otherwise, the Yankees’ best hope of solving their left field woes may depend on finding an outside addition before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

They got a close-up look at one of the more intriguing candidates Friday: the Cubs’ Cody Bellinger, who went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and another run scored in the win.

The Yankees might be able to speed up the Cubs’ decision to sell by beating them in the final series before the All-Star break, but that now will take two straight wins.

While trade talks typically begin to get more serious after the MLB draft, which will take place this Sunday through Tuesday, the Yankees have been treading water in left field while trying to mix and match after not fully addressing the position over the offseason.

Entering Friday, the Yankees were getting some of the worst production in the majors out of their left fielders.

Their -0.5 bWAR (via Baseball Reference) was tied for the second worst of any team’s left fielders while their 0.1 fWAR (via FanGraphs) was tied for the fourth-worst mark.

Their defense in left field has also been among the majors’ worst, according to advanced metrics.

The Yankees had registered minus-five outs above average from their left fielders, according to Baseball Savant, which tied for the fourth-worst mark in the majors.

Jake Bauers landed on the injured list Friday with a left rotator cuff contusion.
Jake Bauers landed on the injured list Friday with a left rotator cuff contusion.
Getty Images

By FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved, their minus-12 by left fielders was tied for the second-worst mark.

“We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks,” Boone said. “We feel we have capable guys to throw out there. It’s been a lot of people out there, obviously. A handful of them are able to play average-to-plus defense out there.”

Through 89 games, the Yankees have started nine different left fielders.

Cabrera got the first shot to start the season, but his bat has not been nearly as productive as it was during his two-month cameo last year.

The Yankees have sent him to Triple-A twice this season, only to bring him back quickly both times because of injuries to other players, and his 20 starts in left field are the most of any Yankee.

Bauers (18 starts in left), Kiner-Falefa (16) and McKinney (12) have all delivered sporadic boosts at the plate. Kiner-Falefa, a natural infielder, has been the most consistent hitter of the group, but he and Bauers have had their defense exposed at times.

Aaron Hicks, meanwhile, was jettisoned in May and is now helping the Orioles in the AL East race.

Outside of a trade, the Yankees may get some minor relief after the All-Star break.

Greg Allen, known more for his defense than his offense, has been ramping up his baseball activities recently in his rehab from a hip flexor strain and could become an option shortly after the break.

Willie Calhoun, known more for his bat than his glove, is also making progress from a quad strain, though his return is further away.

On Friday, he said he was further along than he initially expected to be, with a late July return possible.

Meanwhile, there is no obvious help coming from the minors. Former top prospect Estevan Florial, batting .295 with 21 home runs and a .992 OPS at Triple-A, was a candidate to replace Bauers on the active roster.

But he is not on the 40-man roster, after he was designated for assignment in April, and the Yankees have consistently passed him over to promote other outfielders, such as Cordero, who is 2-for-32 with 14 strikeouts over his last 13 games in the majors after a hot start to the season.

“Flo’s done a really nice job down there of putting together a really strong season,” Boone said. “Certainly he keeps pushing himself into the conversation anytime we do have a need. I would say [not being on the 40-man roster] is part of it. Role plays a factor in it, too”

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