Do the Yankees Need to Make a Trade?
by Cary Greene
June 8, 2022
Whether or not Matt Carpenter sticks with the Yankees this season goes a long way towards helping Brian Cashman determine his moves at the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline. Cashman also has to figure out what to do with Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo. Once these three players' futures with the Yankees are sorted out, Cashman will prioritize the Yankees needs.
With J.P. Sears stretched out and Hayden Wesneski also in excellent form as a starter, and with Domingo German now moving towards a rehab assignment, the Yankees are flush with possible starting pitching, should one of their lights-out starters falter or suffer an injury. I highly doubt Brian Cashman will be looking for starting pitching, like most teams will be. Therefore, Cashman can operate from a position of strength as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Cashman may be looking for an extra reliever, but he has Zack Britton coming back in mid-September and there’s a good chance Jonathan Loaisiga or Aroldis Chapman will make it back as well. On top of these factors, Cashman has stockpiled all sorts of experienced arms in the minor league system, so do the Yankees do not need to overpay for a reliever.
What then, do the Yankees really need? The answer to that question will be determined by what Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks do during the remainder of June and then for the entirety of July. The Yankees have the luxury of letting both Gallo and Hicks try to work out of their unbelievably deep funks. If Cashman is forced to cut both players, which he may need to do if he believes he can significantly upgrade in the hopes of putting together a true World Series favorite, then he may be looking for at least one outfielder, possibly two.
Cashman might also be keeping an eye on the catching market because he may run into an opportunity to upgrade, though I don’t think he will look to disturb the current situation because the pitching has just been too outstanding and he probably realizes that the current Yankee catching is playing a huge role in the pitching staff’s success.
Assuming Cashman is looking for outfield help, there are a few logical trade targets. I’ve actually assessed players who I believe fit what the Yankees should be looking for. I considered splits and a myriad of peripherals. Cashman should be looking for players who destroy right-handed pitching, who are decent base runners, who avoid hitting into double plays, and who play very good defense. He’s also going to have to keep in mind contracts because the Yankees currently sit squarely in the mid-tier of the luxury tax. Lastly, how many years of team control does each player have and do they fit into the lineup and improve the Yankees' overall balance.
The below chart reflects my research and it’s a list that, if I were the team’s GM, I would use to guide my inquiry process. Cashman should be using what he’s learned this season to drive what he does going forward.
The players below are all fits for the 2022 Yankees:
Now let’s look at the peripherals and other details and determine which players are the most realistic trade targets. In order we can cross Juan Soto, Bobby Whitt Jr, Alek Thomas, Tyler Stephenson and Austin Hays all off the list as they are all varying degrees of “very-costly-to-trade-for” players. The chart below reveals each player’s median trade value, per baseballtradevalues.com, as well as other peripheral criteria which was used to determine the level of interest the Yankees might have in each player, based on overall fit.
Regarding Outfield Trade-Targets:
Andrew Benintendi of the Royals is, by far and away, Cashman’s best bet as an everyday type player and Benintendi could even be extended beyond this season. Benintendi kills righties and he hits very well against lefties too, which is why he’s the best everyday player who checks all of the peripheral boxes as well. That said, let’s open the discussion with one simple observation: Benintendi isn’t going to come cheap, because lot’s of teams are interested in his services.
JJ Picollo, KC’s new GM, who replaced the “unwilling to trade-to-improve” Dayton Moore, “might-be” willing to do something to help KC move an expiring contract for a building block. The NY media is finally catching on to the fact that Andrew Benintendi is and should be the Yankees top trade target – something I’ve been trumpeting for two years now by the way.
I can’t say for certain whether or not Brian Cashman has ever inquired about Benintendi, but I can say for sure that KC has been of late, generally unwilling to trade established veterans. Therefore, is KC even willing to consider trading Benintendi? Well, rumors are already swirling and there are no reports that the Royals are in talks to extend Benintendi's current deal, so it makes sense to reason that trading him is the Royals' best move.
A successful trade for Benintendi might look something like the below, I would think the Royals would want both Hayden Wesneski and J.P. Sears or no deal and based on mlbtradevalues.com median trade values, if the Royals were to put Benintendi on the “block,” they could easily demand that sort of prospect haul. I’m not sure I’d trade both Wesneski and Sears if I were Brian Cashman, but FOR SURE, Wesneski is absolutely the centerpiece of any trade between the Royals and Yankees for Andrew Benintendi.
Yankees Get: MLB LF Andrew Benintendi
Royals Get: Triple-A RHSP Hayden Wesneski and one of MLB RHSP Domingo German, Triple-A LHSP JP Sears or Triple A CF Estevan Florial.
Moving on, I don’t think that trading for Juan Soto is remotely in the realm of possibilities mainly due to Soto’s absurdly high trade value. Beyond that, considering that the Yankees already have Giancarlo Stanton under contract and are about to be faced with the grim reality of having to battle it out in free agency with the rest of MLB to secure the services of Aaron Judge, I don’t see acquiring Soto as something the Yankees could accomplish. Soto is a career right fielder as well, so is he even a fit for the Yankees?
Austin Hays of the Orioles would be a great fit on the Yankees but there’s no way the Orioles are trading such an inexpensive asset, considering they have 4 ½ more years of team control and Hays only makes $706,500.. The Orioles would never give Hays to the Yankees, he’s a big part of their rebuild, not to mention, Hays’ trade value is extremely high. There’s no deal here whatsoever.
The next tier of outfielders who fit the Yankees needs can be grouped into two categories. On one side of the ledger, we have Alek Thomas of the Diamondbacks, it would be way too costly to trade for him – but on the other side of the leger, we have six possible trade targets who would probably each improve the team and give Yankees manager Aaron Boone some situational options against right-handed pitching. I’ve prioritized each trade-target in terms of fit and attractiveness to the Yankees. Other than Andrew Benintendi who is clearly the best fit, here’s my list.
Josh Rojas (Diamondbacks, 2B-3B, Corner OF – a bit more expensive than Benintendi) Big upgrade from Marwin Gonzalez, could fit in well as the Yankees utility player they’ve been searching for. Beats up righties too and hits lefties well enough to play. Bats left-handed, but again, pretty costly.
Austin Meadows (Tigers, LF, RF) A solid enough defender who does just about everything well, aside from baserunning which he’s so-so at. Perfect fit for the Yankees as a bench piece, but almost as expensive as Benintendi so that would be a drawback towards the Yankees making a trade here. Bats left-handed, would give Boone options.
Michael Taylor (also of the Royals, CF) Known as an elite defender but slipping a bit this season. Very affordable to trade for. Perhaps the Yankees could look to trade for both Benintendi and Taylor. Not an everyday player, he’s a right-handed batter who hits righties pretty decently. Would need to platoon with Hicks.
Adolis Garcia (Rangers CF) A platoon player at this point, he’s struggling against lefties and he strikes out way too much. He’s also twice as expensive to trade for as Benintendi, but - he’s an elite base runner and a plus defender in center field. The Yankees could platoon him with Hicks and use him off the bench for speed and late game defense. It’s remotely possible that the Yankees might be interested in acquiring him.
Ben Gamel (Pirates) An everyday left-fielder, he’s a poor-man’s Benintendi. He hits righties well and he does a lot of little things very well, including playing defense and running the bases. He fits. He’s inexpensive to trade for and he could help.
Albert Amora (CF) and Tyler Naquin (CF) (Reds) Both stretches regarding potential Yankee interest. They’d be super inexpensive to trade for and of the two, Almora is the one the Yankees might have interest in. He’s a right-handed hitter who hits righties extremely well and he plays solid defense in center field. Naquin would be more of a left fielder option.
What other position players should the Yankees look at? It’s a short list, but I’ve prioritized the players who might be realistic Yankee trade targets. Our criteria is the same as above. The Yankees will be looking for players who mash right-handed pitching and who do all the little things well. Let’s hope Matt Carpenter sticks with the team. If he does, here are four players the Yankees may have varying degrees of interest in as Cashman gets ready to attempt to win a World-Series:
Garrett Stubbs (Phillies - C, LF, 1B, 2B) A super-inexpensive to trade-for player, Stubbs is actually a very good defensive catcher who can hit. He could be an absolute diamond in the rough and the Phillies are falling out of contention and have just fired manager Joe Girardi. They’re going to be looking to make some changes. The Yankees might be able to offer Kyle Higashioka and a prospect for Stubbs -or- perhaps the trade could go other directions but Brian Cashman should absolutely inquire. Stubbs is a fit. He bats left-handed too. May seem like a minor trade but Stubbs is a great fit in NY.
Josh Bell (Nationals - 1B - DH) Trading for Bell would be very affordable and he’s a switch hitter who has developed into a passable first baseman these days. Bell mashes right-handed pitching and he doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s a dead-pull hitter who mangles shifts as well but he is prone to hitting into double-plays and he’s a beyond bad baserunner.
Adding Bell as a platoon DH, back up first baseman would be easily possible if the Yankees parted ways with both Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks. Imagine this lineup against a righty starter in the playoffs, with OPS vs righties listed:
Andrew Benintendi - LF (L) .832
Aaron Judge - CF 1.184
Josh Bell DH (S) .881
Giancarlo Stanton - RF .870
Anthony Rizzo - 1B (L) .847
Matt Carpenter - 2B (L) 1.559 (will come down by then)
Josh Donaldson - 3B .834
Garrett Stubbs - C (L) 1.029 (will come down also)
Isiah Kiner Falefa - SS .648
The Yankees would have Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Jose Trevino and perhaps Tim Locastro, Josh Rojas or Marwin Gonzalez on the bench. Against lefties, the Yankees would play DJ LeMahieu at second base and Jose Trevino at catcher.
Gleyber Torres would also play his fair share and he might even play shortstop a bit down the stretch, assuming the Yankees have a playoff spot as good as locked up. If the Yankees went a different direction than Gonzalez for that extra roster spot. The Yankees could use Matt Carpenter situationally, late in games or in big spots, as a pinch hitter.