After the offseason in which Giancarlo Stanton became a Yankee, Derek Dietrich replaced him as the longest-tenured Marlin.
Now they’re back together again in pinstripes, with the former trying to stay healthy for a big season and the latter on a minor league deal fighting for a bench spot.
“It’s been great having him here,” Stanton said before the Yankees were off Monday for the first time since Grapefruit League play began. “It brings back old memories from when we were first getting started down in Miami. It’s been good. He’s looked solid and he’s working hard as he usually does. Just got to keep it rolling.”
Stanton and Dietrich overlapped in Miami from 2013-2017, seeing each other’s best seasons. Even after they left the rebuilding Marlins — Stanton getting traded to The Bronx and Dietrich being designated for assignment the next year — the muscled men continued to train together during the offseason in Miami.
“We developed a special bond,” said Dietrich, who played his last two seasons with the Reds and Rangers. “We both really like to take care of ourselves physically and really put in work. … G is a special player. When it’s clicking and he’s consistent and he’s on the field, he’s absolutely the best player on the field. I saw special things the year he hit 59 [home runs], MVP [in 2017].
“I don’t know if he could grow any more in physical stature, because the guy’s an absolute beast. But he’s obviously matured as a player, just like anyone with experience, in the quality of his at-bats, his leadership on and off the field.”
Dietrich’s path to the Yankees, meanwhile, is less certain. The 31-year-old offers defensive versatility at second base, third base, first base and left field, and said he has often been told that his “left-handed pull power would definitely be rewarded at Yankee Stadium.”
But Dietrich, who homered Wednesday against the Blue Jays and is 1-for-5 in three spring games, has plenty of competition for a bench spot. If the Yankees break camp with 13 position players on their 26-man roster, that would leave four spots for the likes of Dietrich, Brett Gardner, Kyle Higashioka, Jay Bruce, Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar, Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman.
“They look like they are going to make us have decisions and that’s what we want,” GM Brian Cashman said recently about Dietrich and Bruce.
Dietrich just wants a chance.
“I live to compete,” he said. “Whatever I have to do to help and earn an opportunity to win a World Series, I’m willing to do at this point in my career. There’s no better team to do it with than the New York Yankees.”