Yankees: Options for a lighter 2020 outfield

Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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The New York Yankees have parted ways with Jacoby Ellsbury. Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin have played out their contracts. It’s a leaner Bronx Bombers outfield in 2020.

It sparked good energy around New York Yankees Nation for a moment. Fans across the globe had been anxiously awaiting throughout 2019 for the Bombers to cut ties with Jacoby Ellsbury.

Jacoby Ellsbury was finally released. It wasn’t relieving to hear that the New York Yankees will likely still need to continue to pay the approximately $26M remaining on the outfielder’s contract. But it was a blissful feeling in that Yankees fans will no longer have to worry about his constant presence on the injury list. A lin reminder of arguably the worst free-agent signing in MLB history.

Just about everything that could have gone wrong with signing Ellsbury to one of the biggest deals in baseball, did go wrong. Overall, he was underwhelming as a player in pinstripes, as well as playing just 520 games in six seasons with the Yankees. In fact, he didn’t even see the field in either 2018 or 2019.

With this disappointment now in the rearview mirror, Manager Aaron Boone now has decisions to make on what his outfield could look like next year. It’s not just Ellsbury who’s missing.

Brett Gardner provided stability to the New York Yankees outfield for years, but his contract has expired. It’s not at all out of the picture for the 37-year-old Gardner to be re-signed, on the heels of his best season in Pinstripes last year. But the Bronx Bombers are going to be so focused on the starting pitching free agent market GM Brian Cashman might not get back around to Gardner for some time.

To make matters worse, Aaron Hicks is expected to be out for the first half of the season rehabilitating from Tommy John Surgery. As of right now, the starting center fielder for the Yankees is unknown.

The release of Ellsbury resulted in prospect Estevan Florial‘s addition to the 40-man roster. The Dominican Dynamo is ranked 82nd on the MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. He is ranked third in the organization and is one of the most talked-about phenoms in the minor leagues. He’s a perfect fit for centerfield when he’s ready, which may come a little earlier than expected. Florial will need to grow up fast because he hasn’t played higher than Class A ball.