In between tracking conversations between owners and players about what a possible 2020 season might offer, The Post is looking at five Yankees who could benefit from a shorter schedule and the possibility of the rosters expanding from 26 to 30. .
When it was clear that the season wasn’t going to take off until July, a popular phrase tied to the Yankees was “blessing in disguise” because Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and James Paxton weren’t going to be ready for the original opening day.
Well, as of May 22, Judge was not yet hitting at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, where Miguel Andujar, DJ LeMahieu, and Stanton were participating in BP. Paxton’s scheduled return date for February back surgery was late May or early June, so he should be ready if the season opens. Stanton appears to be on his way to the first game and Hicks may soon follow.
Here are the five players identified by The Post who will benefit the most from a shorter schedule if it’s 81 games or less. All decisions are based on players avoiding injuries.
When a six-month routine turns into a three-month concert, players with chronic lower body injuries benefit. That doubles for a thick-legged catcher like the 27-year-old Sanchez, who has limited himself to 195 games in the past two seasons due to two periods on the disabled list each year.
A shorter season means Sánchez should be cool in July. That should not only help him behind the plate, but also in the batting box, where his power has hit 52 home runs in the past two years, but only a .211 average with a .776 OPS.
As the right fielder suffered a fracture to his upper right rib last September and was not expected to return until the summer according to general manager Brian Cashman, it is difficult to predict when the judge will be ready.
But a shorter season may help the 28-year-old who has limited himself to 214 games in the past two years due to a fractured wrist and oblique injury. It’s safe to say that Aaron Boone will oversee Judge’s workload in hopes that he won’t waste his extended time for the third consecutive season.
After participating in just 18 regular-season games last year due to a left bicep injury and a right knee injury, Stanton, 30, was not going to be ready for Opening Day on March 26 due to a calf strain suffered in spring training.
With plenty of options to play in left field if Boone wants to use Stanton solely as a DH, Stanton could avoid the wear and tear of playing the field.
If Hicks returns from Tommy John surgery to the game center, Brett Gardner can drive left. Mike Tauchman is an above-average corner outfielder with a left-handed bat that would add balance to the Yankees’ dominating right-handed lineup. Andujar was not ashamed in several spring training games on the left and an extra spot on the list could go to Clint Frazier.
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With a 26-man roster, it would have been difficult for the 25-year-old outfielder to keep up. However, if four points are added, Frazier could be a bench option and a right-handed bat for lefties, either on the field or as DH.
Frazier’s defense in spring training was better, his lower profile and his bat averaged .320 (8-of-25) in a dozen games.
As a free agent in November, whether or not he plays a season, the 31-year-old left-handed starter could greatly benefit from a strong three months that would lessen concern over his health history. Paxton has been in IL eight times since 2014 and had back surgery in February.
If he avoids injury in a shortened season and pitches his pedigree (56-32 with a 3.50 in 131 major league games), Paxton would prepare for a good payday even in what is likely to be a depressed free-agent market. .