It took all season for New York Yankees fans to feel some type of happiness for their team, but the club’s impressive sweep over the Houston Astros has given fans some light in a dark tunnel of depression. They’re still far from a playoff spot, eight games out at the time of this article, but that hasn’t stopped any cheering for the team’s newest prospects in Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells.
I’ve already talked about Wells and the potential that I saw from him back in January before the season had even begun. He impressed not only with his bat, but also looked much better on defense than scouts had talked about. But the bigger focus by fans was directed toward Dominguez and when you go yard twice in your first serious of big league ball, it’s going to turn some heads. When you do it against the Astros, Yankees fans are practically going to worship you.
While the number one prospect in the team’s farm system was cooking in Houston, I saw an interesting question on Twitter that I thought I should chime in on. Should Dominguez’s great play stop the team from acquiring a player like Cody Bellinger in this upcoming free agency? My initial reaction was an immediate no, but it did give me an opportunity to think about how the current Cubs slugger fits in the Bronx.
I think we need to mention a few key points when answering this question. My immediate thought was to Everson Pereira, the team’s current young left fielder. Would an acquisition of Bellinger halt Pereira’s development even further? Do I think that the current Yankees left fielder could potentially become the great offensive player that this lineup desperately needs? That is an absolute yes, but you also need to keep in mind that the player that we are talking about is just 22-years-old. If I was Brian Cashman, I definitely wouldn’t bank on a massive jump to all-star status in 2024, especially when the team doesn’t need to rush his development.
Getting a player like Bellinger would be an immediate boost to a lineup that’s been one of the least productive in baseball. The Yankees would be adding a player that’s currently had a huge resurgence in production with a .325 average and has shown that he’s capable of handling the pressure of big market ballclubs. I could also talk about his power that could dominate in a stadium with a short porch or his overall effective left-handed bat. That doesn’t necessarily come along very often in free agency, especially at the potential price tag of what he’s looking for.
I’ll acknowledge that it hurt the team’s offense in 2023 to miss a player of Aaron Judge’s caliber in the lineup as well as a healthy Anthony Rizzo that wasn’t playing through a concussion. But that’s also a sign that the rest of the team’s lineup needs to step up. Even though players like D.J. LeMahieu have started to hit after the all-star break, that production needs to be felt throughout an entire season of baseball and not in a period of time where it looks like New York will miss the playoffs.
The real question is where does a player like Dominguez fit into all of this? Currently, he’s played most of his time in the minors in center field, a place where Bellinger projects to play, but he’s also shown the ability to play left field during his development in the minors. Considering that he’s shown his capability to play the position, and shifting to left field would allow a spot for Bellinger, it certainly feels like an easy yes to put Dominguez in that left field spot and then shift Bellinger to center field for next season if the team were to successfully sign him.
It’s still early, but if the 2019 international signee can keep up this production into 2024 and the Yankees somehow pull off an acquisition of Bellinger, it not only would create an incredibly dangerous outfield in the Bronx, but it would at the very least be massive for the team’s offensive output. For Yankees management, this should be more than just a simple fever dream. It should be a massive priority ahead of free agency, especially with the amount of mistakes that the team’s front office has committed over the last few years.