Five Yankee Trade Deadline Targets
by EJ Fagan
June 28, 2023
NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.
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It's time to buy
The Yankees are on track to win 90 games. Their roster’s problems are well-documented, but if Aaron Judge and Carlos Rodon come back, the team looks headed for the playoffs. They should be buyers at the trade deadline, but not huge buyers. The Yankees can’t afford to weaken their farm system right now.
The good news is that the Yankees could vastly improve their offense by adding a bunch of average-ish hitters. Here are five trade deadline targets that the Yankees should target.
Two rules: no long-term contract commitments and no one that will cost a prospect that you’ve heard of.
I’m still a little surprised that the Yankees didn’t sign McCutcheon this offseason, given how desperate they were for a corner outfielder. The star is having his best season in a long time:
McCutchen would instantly slot in as the best or second-best non-Judge hitter in the Yankee lineup. He’s still fast, running at roughly Volpe speed. He gets on base. The only catch is that he’s been playing a lot of DH as he ages. He could probably play the field a bit, but would take time away from Stanton on the Yankee roster. I’m not sure that Stanton deserves to play much at all over McCutchen, but the Yankees don’t seem ready to give up on the big guy yet.
Yankees third basemen have hit .205/.272/.375 in 2023, which comes in at 26th in the league, with slightly below average defense. If they could just find a league average hitter, they could engineer a huge upgrade. I think that hitter is Jeimer Candelario:
On top of the average hitting, Candelario is having the best defensive season of his career. The Nationals are awful. He’s on an expiring contract. The dude is getting traded. Plus, he’s a switch hitter. How is he not a Yankee already? Release Donaldson and go get this guy tomorrow.
I’m a big believer that there are a ton of Quad-A players who would probably be successful if they were given a chance. They often aren’t given chances because most Quad-A players won’t succeed and it’s hard to tell the difference between the good and bad ones.
But, one of the luxuries of being a godawful tanking team like the Athletics is that you have plenty of space to try out a bunch of Quad-A players and see what sticks. After three seasons hitting .274/.387/.590 at Triple-A but only sporadic MLB playing time, Rooker has made the most of his shot:
Is he for real? It’s hard to tell. Rooker sure strikes out a lot. He’s a below average corner outfielder at best. He might just be a right-handed Jake Bauers.
I’m also not sure if the A’s are going to trade him. While he’s 28 years old, Rooker has only about a year of MLB service time. He’s cheap and under team control. The A’s might want to sell high on one of the few bright spots on their roster, or they might keep him for their Las Vegas future.
Remember how great DJ LeMahieu was when he first left Colorado? Let me introduce you to DJ 2.0:
It’s hard to tell how much of the red bubbles are related to playing in Chicago, but for what it’s worth his home-road splits haven’t been too stark in 2023. McMahon’s performance grades out to above average in 2023 for the first time in his career. He’s always been one of the best defensive players in baseball, but now he’s adding some offense.
I am breaking one rule with McMahon: he signed a pretty reasonable contract extension ($12 million AAV through 2027). I think the Yankees can afford him, but I’d understand if they don’t want to add another 2b/3b type for the same term as LeMahieu’s contract.
Did you know that Mike Tauchman is leading off for the Cubs? I had no idea. After a year in Triple-A exile, Tauchman is hitting an impressive .276/.392/.378 in 32 games. He doesn’t have enough playing time to have a pretty Statcast bubbles page, but they peg his xwOBA at an impressive .369.
Obviously, it would be incredible to add someone that good to the roster. Tauchman;s outfield defense has always been strong. But he’s also a .237/.336/.378 career hitter. That’s a hell of a lot better than IKF’s .239/.275/.358, let alone what they are getting out of Oswaldo Cabrera. And his 2023 numbers are just damn better than every healthy player on the roster, by a ton.