Who will be the Yankees’ Left Fielder in 2023?
There’s a problem in left field in Yankee Stadium, and it doesn’t have to do with the short fences.
The 2022 Yankees seemed to have a relatively set lineup through most of the season. Injuries were detrimental, taking some players, like DJ LeMahieu, and shifting them with other players like Josh Donaldson. Those moves were pretty straightforward. However, there was one position that seemed to lack the most consistency when compared to others: left field.
There were a lot of players who wound up playing the position throughout 2022. Some were certainly better than others. Still, there was an overall lack of a spark when it came to left fielders in New York this past season.
Out of all of the outfielders listed on the final roster for the Yankees, two players did not play a single game in left field — Harrison Bader, and the MVP himself, Aaron Judge. Ten players suited up for the Yanks in the position. Ten. Whether it was due to injuries or subpar play (we’re looking at you, Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks), there was a clear hole in the lineup every game.
The solution is not so clear either. With All-Star Andrew Benintendi leaving for Chicago this offseason, there remains a major question: Who will play left for the Yankees in 2023?
Deciding Who’s in Left Next Year
There are few free-agent talents left on the table. The top left fielder left is Jurickson Profar, who isn’t exactly the ideal candidate for New York. So, where should the Yankees look instead to fill the hole?
Their farm talent remains to perform at consistent levels, particularly “The Martian” Jasson Dominguez, who remains stuck in Single-A ball for the foreseeable future as a 19-year-old. While many fans want Dominguez in the big leagues as soon as possible, his most recent slash-line of .159/.250/.217 in the Fall League is, to put it simply, disappointing.
With that in mind, there remains just one option to reasonably fill that hole come Opening Day: Oswaldo Cabrera.
Is Cabrera the Answer?
Cabrera was a late addition to the Yankees’ lineup last season, and while he may not have wowed at the plate, he certainly turned some heads out in the field.
He slashed an average .247/.312/.429, but had a total of 9 Defensive Runs Saved above average this season. While he only played 34 games in the outfield this season, he managed to impress with several highly athletic plays. All of this comes without Cabrera having a true position.
There are certainly going to be arguments for certain players over others. There will be people trying to vouch for this free agent, or that trade. However, for the time being, the best thing to do is to keep it within the club itself. The money isn’t bottomless, after all. With Judge’s $360 million contract, there might not be much left in the bank to work with.
The decision will come down to whether management wants Cabrera in the lineup, or whether they want to go with a more “veteran presence” at the position. To this point, though, the veteran presence hasn’t worked out the greatest, with players like Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton being relatively inconsistent on both sides of the ball this past season.
Give him time to work on his bat, and Cabrera may just be the key to the Yankees’ left field problems in 2023.
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