As expected, the Yankees are once again facing a roster crunch that involves explicitly Clint Frazier and Brandon Drury, both of whom appear ready for a return to action. To compound the problem, there just isn’t much the Yankees can do about it.
This is the problem that surfaces when a team is winning, everyone on the squad is healthy, and your general manager insists on acquiring talented players who, at some point, become major league ready. These are the New York Yankees in 2018.
Clint Frazier says he’s ready and means it, and Brandon Drury is hoping he’s ready to get his career re-started again. Both have numbers to prove they are ready. After Sunday’s 3-for-5-with-a-homer day, Frazier had played in 16 rehab games between SWB and Single-A Tampa, going 20-for-62 (.323) with four home runs. Drury’s trip through the Yankees minor league system has also been productive, as he’s hitting a combined .315 (17-for-54) with two homers and seven RBIs during his rehab.
Luckily for the Yankees, Frazier is an outfielder and Drury plays in the infield. But that’s the only break the Yankees get in deciding what to do with each player.
Clint Frazier appears to be blocked everywhere at the moment. Between Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks, the Yankees already have a full complement of outfielders plus one. Each is a contributor to the offense, and they all play well on defense. And to make matters worse for Frazier, the Yankees are not only winning; they are setting a torrid pace that reminds of the record-breaking 1998 team.
Wishing against hope this does not occur, injuries to any of the outfielders would ease the problem. But even then, for Frazier, it would depend on which outfielder goes down. If it’s Gardner, the Yankees might turn to Billy McKinney, who has a similar skill set as Gardner and is almost ready to return from his rehab.
Both Frazier and McKinney are also exposed as potential trade bait when Brian Cashman goes on his annual expedition in July to nab a premium level starter to the rotation.
When we turn to Brandon Drury, the issue is similar to Frazier’s with a clogged list of infielders all doing relatively well, but with one caveat. Which is the Yankees might see a need to get Drury back in there as soon as possible, given the nature of the injury he is recovering from. Migraines and dizziness have been treated with medication and a new physical regimen. There are no broken bones, torn tendons, or anything like that.
And no one is saying Drury is “cured.” More likely, he suffers from a condition in which the problem can only be alleviated, and long-term is something he will probably live with for the rest of his life. Thus, Drury is dealing with something that is not only physical but mental as well. Therefore, the urgency for the Yankees (and Drury) to see how well he copes with those stipulations once he’s facing major league pitching again.
Drury has options, and he could be sent down to Triple-A Scranton for an indefinite period. Conveniently, Miguel Andujar, the player Drury would likely replace, also has options and could be sent down. Gleyber Torres has been sensational since his call-up and will never be replaced by anyone.
Update: Monday May 14 4:30 PM
The Yankees have reinstated Brandon Drury from the 10-day disabled list, but he will not be joining the team. Instead, Drury is being assigned to the Yankees Triple-A team in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This can be seen as either kicking the can down the road or, on the positive side, allowing Drury more time to fully cope with playing on a regular basis, while still being monitored by the medical staff.
Plus, and who’s ready to think about this – the roster crunch problem resurfaces again in a few weeks when Greg Bird is prepared to return to the lineup.
Oh dear, problems, problems, problems all day long. What’s a winning team supposed to do?