The Yankees are receiving trade interest in outfielder Mike Tauchman, SNY’s Andy Martino reports. They’re looking past his 2020 season and valuing him more in line with his 2019 output, per Martino, who adds that it’d take a reliever with some team control or another piece with legitimate value for the Yanks to part with the 30-year-old outfielder.
That teams are inquiring on Tauchman comes as little surprise at this juncture of spring training. He’s out of minor-league options and looks to be without much of a path to regular playing time, given the presence of Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton all on the roster.
The Yankees also have veterans Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich in camp on non-roster deals. Bruce, in particular, has been rumored to pique the Yankees’ interest. Neither has put together a particularly overwhelming spring performance thus far, but both are left-handed bats with pop who could bring some versatility to the mix. While Tauchman is capable of playing all three outfield spots, he doesn’t have any experience in the infield. Bruce has spent a good bit of time at first base, however, and Dietrich can play second base in addition to all four corner positions.
Yankees skipper Aaron Boone acknowledged the looming decisions after yesterday’s game, telling reporters: “The reality is we — and a few of our players — have decisions to make in the next 24, 48, 72 hours,” (link via the New York Post’s Dan Martin). “But no decision has been made as of right now.”
Bruce’s minor-league deal with the club contained an opt-out clause Wednesday, which gives the Yankees 48 hours to put him on the roster. There’s no formal indication that Bruce triggered that clause, although there’s little reason for him not to have done so. Exercising the clause puts pressure on the Yankees and, if he’s not going to make the Opening Day roster in the Bronx, gives him the opportunity to pursue a roster spot with another club.
Martino has suggested it’s possible that both Tauchman and Bruce make the Opening Day roster, with infielder Tyler Wade being optioned to Triple-A to begin the season, although that’s obviously not the most ideal scenario for the Yankees. Doing so would mean a bench of Gardner, Tauchman, Bruce and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka. Each of Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu can play multiple spots around the infield, but there’s not much of a safety net on the bench if one of them needs to depart a game with an injury. Keeping Dietrich, who has ample experience at both second base and third base, would be a cleaner fit in the event that Wade is optioned.
The simplest course of action for the Yankees would be to let Bruce and Dietrich pursue other opportunities, keeping Tauchman and Wade both on the bench to begin the season. However, there’s a case to be made that Tauchman is somewhat redundant with Gardner back in the fold and so many other outfield options on the roster. And with the Yankees losing Zack Britton for up to four months and Justin Wilson working through some shoulder tightness — Wednesday’s MRI came back clean — it could work to their benefit if they could pry a useful reliever away from another club in a deal for Tauchman.
The 2020 season was a rough one for Tauchman, who played through a shoulder injury and recently acknowledged (via Martin in the previously linked piece) that he “developed some bad swing-path patterns” while trying to compensate for the pain he was experiencing. Tauchman hit just .242/.342/.305 in 111 plate appearances last season, maintaining the strong plate discipline he displayed from 2017-19 but showing nowhere near the power he did the prior year.
The 2019 season was a breakout campaign for Tauchman, whom the Yankees plucked from the Rockies in exchange for lefty Phillip Diehl. In 296 plate appearances with the Yankees that year, Tauchman slashed .277/.361/.504 with 13 home runs. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until next winter, and the Yankees control Tauchman through the 2024 season.