In what was one of the more underwhelming and least talked about trades before the season started was the one that sent outfielder Mike Tauchman to the New York Yankees in exchange for left-handed pitcher Phillip Diehl.
The Yankees already had their outfield set with Stanton and Gardner in left, Hicks in center, and Judge in right. So it seemed pretty clear that the Yankees made this move as a little bit of insurance in case of injury.
However, what the Yankees saw in Tauchman couldn’t have possibly come from how the outfielder played in his two seasons with Colorado –– .153/.265/.203, two runs batted in, zero home runs.
53 games. Four stints over two seasons. That was all it took for the Rockies to determine that the guy, who had 36 home runs and an OPS over .900 combined in 2017 and 2018, was not going to be a productive big-leaguer.
For a brief period, the Rockies looked smart in that regard. Tauchman saw pretty consistent playing time in the MLB due to injuries galore in the Yankees lineup, but didn’t make the most of that opportunity. In stint one, the 28-year-old rookie slashed .211/.306/.411 with just 88 wRC+ in 108 plate appearances.
After a double-header on May 15, he saw himself in Triple-A Scranton for just shy of a month, before returning for five games over two more stints in June. In those five games, he reached base just three times in 12 plate appearances and saw his slash-line dip to .208/.300/.387 on the season.
Yankees fans were ready to write him off as a complete dud who had no future in the MLB after he got demoted again on June 16. However, Brian Cashman stuck to the left-handed-hitting outfielder, and sent him to London to face the Red Sox.
While Tauchman was 0-2 in that series, he returned to the states absolutely on fire. Since June turned to July, the 28-year-old is slashing .522/.593/.870 and 282 wRC+ over nine games, which has seen his overall line improve to .264/.354/.473 with 118 wRC+ in 147 plate appearances.
Could it be possible that Tauchman is the product of a recent hot streak and people are just falling for it? Possibly. But there’s a reason this kid had a .827 OPS over seven minor league seasons. He’s a good hitter, and his seven DRS, 11.9 UZR/150 and 4.9 RngR would indicate he’s also a plus-defender.
The Yankees are wildly known for making these under-the-radar moves that pay huge dividends, and Mike Tauchman appears to be the latest one to the mix.