If I Were The GM: My Choices for the Outfield
by Paul Semendinger
November 20, 2021
As the Hot Stove League starts to gear up and draw excitement, interest, and anticipation, I decided to share my thoughts (as I do each year) on who I would acquire for each position if I were the Yankees GM.
Then I discussed second base.
Yesterday, I looked at shortstop.
Today I’ll tackle the outfield!
The outfield is pretty straight forward.
Just a quick note – as I do these exercises, I try to stay realistic and not have the Yankees signing every great player or trading for every player I want. I try to balance it all and propose things that could happen. I also take into consideration the team as it currently stands. The current Yankees are the ones I have to work with or around.
Again, I’m not saying what will happen (no one knows that), I am saying what I would do if I ran the team.
The following is the core of my 2022 Yankees outfield:
Joey Gallo (LF) – Yes, I know he was terrible as a Yankee last year. He came in and the fans (and the Yankees) expected him to hit a ton of homers and be a difference maker. Joey Gallo is not that. My 2022 Yankees wouldn’t expect him to be that. On my team, he would be the #6 or #7 hitter in the batting order. On my team, he adds another lefty bat down the lineup. Do I love his 200 strikeouts and will I like his .220 batting average? No, not particularly. Will I like his 90+ walks? Yes. Will I like his Gold Glove level defense? Yes. Will I like the flexibility he provides? (Gallo, in a pinch can play first base or even third base.) Yes. Will I like the fact that he plays 145+ games every season? Yes. Will I appreciate the 40(+) homers he’ll club out of the #6 or #7 spot in the line-up? YES! Joey Gallo will be an important part of the 2022 Yankees. He’s a role player, not The Guy. In the role I envision for him, he will shine bright. And the fans will come to love him. (Gallo is also a free agent after this season. This is a very important year for his career. Next year the talk will be “How do the Yankees keep him here?”)
Aaron Judge (RF) – Nothing more needs to be said. The key will be for Judge to stay healthy again. I would use the other players around him to let him “rest” as DH more often. The Yankees will need 140-145 games out of Judge. But, the team I am building around him will be good enough to allow him a few more days off. Since the Yankees’ philosophy is on providing rest days, the Yankees need a strong team around Judge. This team provides that.
Giancarlo Stanton (DH. LF, RF) – See Judge, Aaron (above). It’s the same story, basically, with Giancarlo Stanton. Keep him healthy. But, he needs to play in the field more often than in the past. He is a fine defensive fielder on a once or twice a week basis. That’ll be enough to give the other players a chance to rest a bit. Just enough. Not too much. Stanton can (and should) fill that role perfectly.
Aaron Hicks (OF) – The Yankees cannot count on Hicks being an every day player. He isn’t that. My 2022 Yankees also won’t force the Yankees into trying to make Aaron Hicks a middle-of-the-order batter. On a good team (which my 2022 Yankees will be), Aaron Hicks plays a big role, a great role. He can play all three outfield positions. He can get on base. He will hit for occasional power. And, best of all, since he’ll be the fourth outfielder, he shouldn’t break down and he should stay stronger throughout the season. These facts should allow Aaron Hicks to put up solid numbers. In regard to fourth outfielders, Hicks could reasonably be one of the best in the game.
Back-Ups/Reserves – The Yankees never seem to have a problem finding solid pieces to plug gaps for small periods of time. Guys like Tyler Wade and Greg Allen could find themselves back with the club as non-roster invitees to Spring Training if they don’t sign elsewhere. Estevan Florial can help fill this role. There will be a host of outfielders available to fill out the Triple-A roster and provide depth when the spring rolls around. This isn’t an issue. And if the big guys stay healthy, there won’t be much of a need for this depth. If he still isn’t signed, and he wants one last moment in the sun, I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back Brett Gardner, but that would only be if Aaron Hicks doesn’t seem ready to be that #4 guy out there.
WAIT! WHAT ABOUT CF?
Gleyber Torres – No, no, no. He’s not my centerfielder. In my post on second base, I noted that Gleyber Torres was the Yankees’ best trade chip. If I ran the Yankees, I’d make Torres the centerpiece of the deal to solidify centerfield. Let’s not worry about the particulars, the other players on the periphery that would be involved, but, the basic trade I would make is Gleyber Torres for Ketel Marte.
Why Ketel? – First, I believe he is available. He is a player that has been rumored to be on the trading block. The Diamondbacks have no reason to try to retain him. Second, he is a switch hitter. Third, he’s an excellent hitter. Marte immediately becomes my leadoff hitter. Fourth, as I have stated throughout this series, I want players who can fill multiple roles. If needed, Marte can play second base or shortstop. I think teams need this kind of roster flexibility since they carry so many pitchers. A solid defensive player who can hit .300+, bat leadoff, and is a switch-hitter? Yeah, I like it. He’s also only 28-years-old. After his good year, fans will also be asking, “How can we keep him?” since he’ll also be a free agent after 2022.
The only warning I have is that Marte was hurt last year. Before that, though, he was a player who was in the lineup consistently. I always look for that. Assuming he is healthy, Ketel Marte, who is available, reasonably priced salary wise, and checks so many boxes, is the player I want in centerfield for the 2022 Yankees.
Take a look at this batting order:
Ketel Marte – CF
D.J. LeMahieu – 2B
Aaron Judge – RF
Freddie Freeman – 1B
Giancarlo Stanton – DH
Trevor Story – SS
Joey Gallo – LF (depending on the pitcher, I’d flip/flop Story and Gallo on any given day)
???? – C
???? – 3B
I’ll answer the other question marks tomorrow!