How Jasson Domínguez will impact Yankees’ outfield search

How Jasson Domínguez will impact Yankees’ outfield search

Jasson Domínguez only has eight major league games on his résumé, but the center fielder’s limited sample size had him looking like a future star for the outfield-needy Yankees toward the end of 2023.

But the Yankees won’t be able to bank on the 20-year-old at the start of 2024, as UCL surgery abruptly interrupted the start of Domínguez’s career. The Martian underwent the procedure on Sept. 20, and recovery typically takes 9-10 months for position players.

That would give Domínguez a return target between June and July.

Because the lefty-swinging phenom will miss at least a few months next season, Brian Cashman said that the Yankees need to acquire two outfielders this winter. One for center and one for left, a blackhole for offensive and defensive production in 2023.

The general manager also wants to add a left-handed bat.

“Jasson Domínguez looked like he was going to be great for us,” Cashman said at the GM meetings. “He’s now offline, getting healthier. We’ll see him down the line at some point, but in the meantime, I’ve got to plug two holes now. How that looks, we’ll see. But we’re fully engaged with everybody, as you’d expect and as we need, and hopefully we can run into some things that benefit us. We’re just getting started.”

When it comes to free agency, the Yankees could target a few outfielders, including former MVP Cody Bellinger, KBO star Jung Hoo Lee and veteran defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier. Juan Soto would make for a monumental upgrade in left if the Padres decide to trade him, and the Cardinals also have a few young trade candidates who meet the Yankees’ minimum requirements, including Dylan Carlson, Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson.

Conventional thinking suggests that Domínguez’s presence means one of the outfielders the Yankees add will only be a stopgap, someone like Kiermaier. But Cashman said that’s not necessarily the case.

“Depends on how things play out,” he said. “I guess it’s a stopgap until Jasson is ready. That could be a default depending on how well I’m doing at solving these problems or how difficult it is.”

Cashman also didn’t commit to Domínguez immediately returning to the majors once healthy next season.

The top prospect looked more than ready for The Show, crushing four home runs over 31 at-bats before his elbow failed him. However, surgery and time away could rust Domínguez, and he only has nine games of experience at Triple-A.

It’s not out of the question that that’s where he goes once healthy, and the moves the Yankees make this offseason could factor in as the team tries to reemerge as contenders.

“Right now, he’s hurt,” Cashman said. “So we believe he’s going to be a really good player for a long time for us. But right now, I’ve got him off to the side; let him do his Tommy John. Who knows what he’s going to be like getting out of the gates? We think he’ll be back sometime in the summer.

“But I can’t worry about that. I need to solve the problem now. We missed the playoffs last year, as bad as our season was, by three games. So I can’t wait on when he’s coming back by doing a tourniquet. I need to try to solve it with something legit right now, and hopefully, I can do that.”

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