The halt on sports has certainly been a bitter reality for many sports fans. For baseball fans, we didn’t even get the chance to see our season start, and as of right now it’s hard to even say when it’ll begin. The timetable is more or less nonexistent for now.
Sadly, front office staff, stadium employees and groundskeepers have to worry about when games will start up again so that they don’t have to think about losing their jobs. As we know, teams such as the Texas Rangers have not promised to pay their employees. So beyond just the effect this has on players and fans, it’s important to think about the repercussions for the people who work behind the scenes day-in and day-out to make baseball happen in the first place.
Domingo German got into some trouble last September when he was seen laying hands on another woman. It seemed blatantly obvious that German had done something terribly wrong and deserved a suspension for it. That’s exactly what happened, and in January he was tagged with an 81 game suspension for the 2020 season.
From a pure baseball perspective, losing Domingo hurt the Yankees. They could have used him in a handful of spots throughout the postseason. He was also having a very solid regular season. He was 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA a 9.63 K/9 and a 2.45 BB/9.
Now, however, Domingo might miss an entire year’s worth of playing baseball. It’s hard to see a scenario where he plays appears in more than a handful of games, as there may not even be 81 games played in 2020. However, a bit of a silver lining for Domingo is that he is young and still has three arbitration years left. Because of that, he will work out some yearly deals with the Yankees, probably for a lot less now, and will likely be able to get back on track starting next year. There’s still a scenario, however, where the next time he sets foot in a game will come after an 18-month absence. No doubt he will get less money as a result.
James Paxton is an interesting case. On one hand, maybe the virus lockdown isn’t such a bad thing for him because he’ll have more time to recover from back surgery to remove a cyst. On the other hand, and this has more to do with how long this lasts, he loses the chance to prove he can recover from the surgery and still be a good healthy mound presence in a contract year.
However baseball will likely return at some point, and he will be well-rested for a few starts on the mound. The only situation where I can see it really hurting him is if this extends much longer than we think. That is if there’s practically no season at all. That is unlikely, but it’s not an impossibility. In that situation, Paxton will be 32 years old and will not have proved he can pitch post-surgery and post-injury.
This is one that has to sting for Clint. Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks were all set to start the season sidelined for the Yankees, and Clint was going to get his chance at being an everyday player. Another chance, I should say. He might still be on the roster when this is all said and done, but he’s not going to be playing much because Judge and Stanton will both be back. And Hicks very well may be as well. Clint has always been a competitive spirit that has wanted his chance, but he’s never been able to fully take advantage of an opportunity. His fielding ineptness led to the emergence of Mike Tauchman and his attitude has put him in a negative light at times. This April was going to be a big chance for him, and now that chance is likely long gone.
It’s very possible that 2020 was set to be Brett Gardner’s last season as a Major Leaguer. He carries with him a club option for next season, so if Gardner doesn’t deal with much wear and tear this season the Yankees may extend the option. Nonetheless, Gardner is in a race against father time. At 36 years old, his days as a Major Leaguer are certainly numbered. For any player, it’s hard to lose a season, but even more so in the twilight of your career. It’s surely no given that the Yankees will extend Gardner’s option, so it’s not out of the question that we’ve seen the last of Brett Gardner in Pinstripes. It’s even less out of the question that he has played his last game in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd.
This is more one that I saw a lot of people saying on Twitter that would be negatively affected, but it wasn’t one that became immediately apparent to me. One thing that makes me agree is looking at his contract. His 2021 option vests with 165 IP or 27 games started in 2020, but that’s on a prorated basis so he could still reach that mark if games are played this season. So that is less of a reason for concern. Much like Gardner, though, Happ is also in a race against father time. It has to be tough to be 37 years old and practically have an entire season taken from you, especially if it is one of your last.
Again, this is one that I saw a lot of Yankees Twitter talking about. I don’t know how much I agree, though. For the most part, I don’t think the lockdown negatively or positively affects him. It’s more neutral than anything in my opinion. He’ll still get his opportunities when baseball returns. The only situation where I can see it as a negative is that his opportunity to prove he could play outfield is likely finished. Mostly everyone will be healthy for the return of the season and it’s unlikely that Andujar will find a home in the field. Will he be an everyday designated hitter? Who knows. But it’s unlikely he’ll get a chance to prove himself as a halfway decent defender.
All in all, this lockdown hurts more people than it helps in the baseball world. From the people that work at concessions to the players on the field, baseball is feeling this thing. It’s certainly going to be difficult for the industry as a whole to recover. We see the Minor Leagues practically falling apart in front of our eyes. We can only hope that baseball returns sooner rather than later. But most importantly, we can only hope that everyone stays as safe and healthy as possible in these unpredictable times.