Just In: The Yankees are lighting up winter leagues this year but if…

We are so far into the MLB offseason that we’re closer to spring training than we are to the final out of last year’s World Series. Despite that, we still have quite a ways to go before we back into the season, and still some work to be done on the Yankees’ roster.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s no baseball going on. Around this time every year around the world, there are various winter leagues going on. Most famously, there are the ones down in Latin America, which conclude with the Caribbean Series. Besides that, there’s also some ball being played out in Australia.

If you were to look up the rosters across the leagues, you would see the familiar names of MLB players past and present, and some whose names you’ll know in the future. While that does include some occasional good and star-level players, a lot of the names are more on the “Oh hey, it’s that guy” level. With that in mind, let’s do an annual exercise of looking at the “Oh hey, it’s that guy” players from the Yankees’ past who have been playing in this year’s winter leagues.

The most well-known winter league is probably in the Dominican Republic and is known as LIDOM.

Leading the way in LIDOM at time of writing are the Gigantes del Cibao, who have featured very, very brief 2022 Yankee Ronald Guzmán. He hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire, hitting just .143/.308/.143 in nine games. More than that, after pitching some in spring training last year attempting to reinvent his career, he also pitched in one game, allowing three runs in 0.1 innings, good for a 81.00 ERA. Somehow, all of that is better than his stint with the Yankees.

He’s far from a “random Yankee,” but at 40-years-old, Robinson Canó is still going, playing for the Estrellas Orientales, albeit with a .422 OPS. Another notable former Yankee in Miguel Andújar has done a bit better while with the Tigres del Licey. There, he’s been teammates with César Cabral of “Getting ejected for hitting three-straight batters” fame. Cabral hasn’t actually hit anyone but has only gone 0.1 innings.

Much like his hot start with the Yankees this past season, Franchy Cordero got off to an impressive start with the Leones del Escogido. In eight games, he’s hit .364/.482/.591, with more walks than strikeouts.

Finally in the DR, in last at time of writing is the Toros del Este. They feature 35+ year old former Yankee pitchers in Vidal Nuño III and Esmil Rogers. Topping them is former (very brief) 2011 Yankee, who is still going despite turning 46 this past November.

Meanwhile, down in Venezuela, current Yankee Oswald Peraza has gotten some run with the Leones del Caracas. They’re near the top of the Venezuelan Winter League, but down in the middle of the standings are the Tiburones de La Guaira, who have Oswaldo Cabrera. Unfortunately, they’ve both been outhit by Yankees’ legend José Pirela, who has a .846 OPS with the Aguilas del Zulia, where he’s been teammates with fellow Yankee legend Rougned Odor.

Zoilo Almonte and Vidal Nuño III have apparently been getting around this winter, as they’ve also both appeared in the Mexican Winter League for the Caneros de Los Mochis.

At 37, Ramiro Peña is still out there kicking in the Mexican League as well. His hitting doesn’t appear to be much different than when he was a Yankee, as he has a .691 OPS in 278 plate appearances.

After making a very belated Yankees’ debut in 2022, Manny Bañuelos was out of the big leagues and playing in Japan in 2023. As for now, he’s still going in Mexico, putting up a 2.57 ERA in 35 innings with the Tomateros de Culiacan.

Yangervis Solarte is still alive and kicking, as he’s gotten time with the Aguilas de Mexicali in Mexico. He has slugged eight home runs, but is hitting .274/.348/.426 in total. Meanwhile, Stephen Tarpley had appeared for the Sultanes de Monterrey, throwing 30.1 innings with a 3.56 ERA.

As mentioned earlier, there’s also baseball being played out in Australia, and one former Yankee has done quite well for himself outt there.

In 32 games at the time of writing, Greg Bird is hitting .275/.362/.541 with nine home runs for the Melbourne Aces, becoming a beloved figure. (As much as one can become a beloved figure playing baseball in Australia.)

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