The Yankees will be without Aaron Hicks for at least the opening series of the regular season due to back stiffness that has required two cortisone shots. With back issues, reducing the pain while getting up to game speed is difficult and can often linger well beyond the original diagnosis.
The Yankees will have to make a decision on who will take the newly vacant roster spot and they have two choices: Clint Frazier or Tyler Wade.
Which player makes the most sense?
Why Frazier fits over Wade
First, Frazier is an experienced outfielder, whereas Wade just started seeing time in the corner outfield spots last season. Frazier has played all over the outfield in his minor league career, while Wade just played his first handful of innings in center field on Sunday.
Next, Frazier has had some success at the big league level, while Wade has had his struggles at the plate. Frazier seemingly possesses a higher offensive upside than Wade based on overall minor league production.
Finally, Frazier owns game changing potential at the plate, while Wade is more of a contact hitter. If the Yankees need a home run off the bench, it is more likely to come off Frazier's bat than Wade's.
Why Wade fits over Frazier
Wade is more versatile defensively, which is a major key for bench roles. Having Wade on the roster provides the Yankees with another roving infielder, one that can also handle short stints in the outfield if necessary.
Wade has performed better in spring training, while Frazier has slogged through the first few weeks of exhibition games. Spring stats don't mean a whole lot, but with Frazier missing extended time in 2018, it's not out of the realm of possibility that it would take him longer to get up to speed.
At the moment, neither player would be seeing regular starting time, with the Yankees likely to shift Brett Gardner to center field and use Giancarlo Stanton as the left fielder. In that regard, Wade has more experience as a bench player, where Frazier is used to being a starter. Considering the time missed in 2018, the Yankees are more likely to desire getting Frazier reps in the minors on a daily basis rather than sitting on the bench most days.
Wade owns a couple of other advantages over Frazier. First, Wade is an excellent base-runner that possesses stolen-base capabilities. Second, Wade hits left-handed giving Yankees manager Aaron Boone that necessary presence on the bench.
As the Yankees wrangle with this decision, the main factor to consider is the length of time that the team believes Hicks will be out and that his direct replacement was already going to be starting most games.
In my view, for a bench player, Wade best fits the bill. Meanwhile, the Yanks will be better off allowing Frazier to play on a daily basis. If an injury to either of the other outfield regulars was in play now or occurs while Hicks is still on the shelf, then Frazier would become the answer to play on a daily basis.
Since that's not the case, we should expect Wade to be named to the 25-man roster next week while Frazier takes a trip to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.