The Yankees were surely disappointed to learn they would not receive a sitdown with Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. Besides the obvious impact of his decision to shy away from New York, it has opened the door for several potential scenarios for the Yankees at designated hitter.
Part of Ohtani's allure to the Yankees was the ability to slot him into the lineup as a DH a few days a week, which would allow for easy dispersement of the rest of the at-bats to the remaining position players. New York would have been able to provide half-day rest to the starting outfield -- Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge -- as well as starting catcher Gary Sanchez.
The Yankees may still utilize this angle, but will have more days to fill in. If they are unable to trade Jacoby Ellsbury, he could take some time as DH, just as he did at points last summer. Perhaps they would use Chase Headley as a DH if top prospect Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar makes the club as the starting third baseman. The Yankees may also utilize Clint Frazier at times in an effort to accumulate plate appearances as a bench player with occasional DH action.
Alternately, the Yankees could once again dip into the free agent market to fill the DH role as they did with Matt Holliday for the 2017 season. They would need to decide if they wanted to sign a full-time DH or someone that can serve as a part-time DH and elsewhere on the field. For example, the Yankees could seek to add a veteran backup for Greg Bird at first base, who would mainly serve as a DH.
Mark Reynolds, who hit 30 home runs in 2017, fits that bill. Before concern arises about Reynolds being the next Chris Carter, Reynolds has demonstrated better plate discipline in recent seasons, where he has not been a home run-or-bust player. The true concern with Reynolds, 34, would be his home/road splits in the last two seasons, where it is clear he benefited from the hitting environment in Coors Field (.978 OPS at Coors and .703 OPS away in 2017).
Danny Valencia would be a low-cost option to provide backup for Bird and take on time as a designated hitter. Valencia has reached 500 plate appearances in each of the last two seasons, generating OPS+ measures of 116 and 95 in succession. Valencia, 33, provides less power than Reynolds, but strikes out less as well. Like Reynolds, Valencia would be a short-term option.
On the long-term front, switch-hitting 32-year-old Carlos Santana is available. Santana's price and requirement for full-time reps may be prohibitive to the Yankees' desires to stay under the luxury tax this season. Like other higher-salary options on the market, if the Yankees entered into bidding it would seemingly coincide with trades of players off the current roster to offset the salary. Further, Santana may not be interested in a full-time DH role as the Yankees are set on Bird as the regular first baseman.
Finally, the Yankees could work out a reunion with Todd Frazier. They added Frazier, 32, as part of a mammoth trade with the White Sox last July and he immediately provided energy to the club. Frazier, as with Santana, will require a multiyear deal (though likely at a lower value) to secure his services. Likewise, the Yankees would surely look to trade Headley in an effort to allow for Frazier's return and reduce redundancy. Frazier might not slot in as a DH often, but his presence could allow the Yanks to ease Torres or Andujar into starts at third base. Frazier could also serve as a backup for Bird if needed.