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Should the Yankees Call Up Chris Gittens After Luke Voit's Injury?

NEW YORK — With Luke Voit headed to the injured list, the Yankees will need to rely on their depth at first base for the foreseeable future.

Shortly after revealing that Voit will be sidelined with a right oblique strain, Yankees manager Aaron Boone listed Mike Ford, DJ LeMahieu and Miguel Andújar as those in play to fill the void.

There's one slugger at the Triple-A level, however, that could swing his way into the conversation for some big-league playing time as well.

Chris Gittens has been tearing it up for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders so far in 2020. The first baseman is hitting .323 (10-for-31) with four home runs and a 1.297 OPS over 11 games this season. 

You may recall Gittens' name from tuning into Yankees Grapefruit League games during spring training over the last few years. The slugger mashed three home runs this spring, swinging a hot bat—with a .316 average—in 20 games with the Bombers.

Sure, Gittens could be an option, but how does he fit into the equation? Boone singled out those three aforementioned players on Wednesday, but only one of them is a true first baseman. That would be Ford, who has just eight hits over 19 games and 52 at-bats. 

LeMahieu has moved over to first quite a bit this season, thanks to Voit starting the season on the IL. That said, he's struggled at the plate quite a bit when penciled in as a first baseman. It's a small sample, but LeMahieu's average drops 40 points when he's playing first rather than second. 

Boone has demonstrated a willingness to move LeMahieu around the infield in pinstripes, but with the second baseman still figuring it out at the plate this season, perhaps keeping him at his natural position on defense would be the best way for him to break out?

As for Andújar, Boone added that the third baseman has more of a role at the moment in the outfield. Andújar has started several games in left field recently, a corresponding move while Clint Frazier was out with a neck injury and Brett Gardner made the full-time move to center to fill in for Aaron Hicks (left wrist surgery). 

Gittens, like Voit, doesn't provide defensive versatility, but he could be a spark offensively at a position where New York has failed to produce all season long. Even with Voit and LeMahieu included, five players have combined to hit .169 with a .544 OPS. 

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That's the second-worst average for any team at first base and the third-lowest OPS.

Gittens, 27, has certainly paid his dues, spending the last eight seasons in the minor leagues. He's not a highly-touted prospect, but when he makes contact, he can hit the ball as hard and as far as anyone in the organization.

The only other factor to consider would be the 40-man roster. Gittens would need to be added if New York wanted to promote him, which means there has to be a spot available. 

Asked on Wednesday if Corey Kluber will be going to the 60-day injured list after his latest injury—which would open up a 40-man spot—Boone mentioned New York already has some spots on the roster available. Kluber and Hicks could be placed on the 60-day IL in the near future, freeing up even more space for a player like Gittens. 

In the end, the decision will come down to whether or not the Yankees feel the need to add another first baseman. Voit's oblique injury could keep him out for a while, but if Boone and the organization are comfortable sticking with their current trio on the big-league roster, then those roster spots could be used elsewhere. 

Besides, do the Yankees really need another right-handed hitter in this righty-heavy lineup? After all, New York is reportedly "prioritizing" lefties as we inch closer to the Trade Deadline.

Then again, if there was ever a time to give the power hitter a shot in the Bronx, now seems like a solid opportunity. 

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