The 5 Trades for Joey Gallo: Braves
It's long been time to cut our loses from the Joey Gallo experience and give Miguel Andujar a real shot. But, where could Gallo be traded?
What is Joey Gallo Worth (A Preview):
Joey Gallo has not been a productive player while he has been with the New York Yankees. In 124 games since being traded to New York during the 2021 trade deadline, he has hit to a .162/.290/.364 (.654 OPS/84 OPS+) extended triple-slash while hitting just 33 extra-base hits (including 22 home runs), walking 67 times, and striking out 177 times. This is a far step below the .211/.336/.497 (.833 OPS/117 OPS+) hitter that he was for the Texas Rangers from 2015 to the 2021 deadline.
An important note is that there is potential here. For a quick confidence boost for any team willing to take him on, he had a good-to-great batting history in Texas. He's not an "old guy" as he's just 28 and doesn't turn 29 until November. The shift is going to be banned for 2022- which should help his batting going forward- and any team that trades for him now would get first dibs at negotiating a new contract before he is set to become a free agent. And, on that same token, it gives any team interested in Gallo a chance to see what he could do for them in their uniform and around their media. (I really think there is another missed factor here that Gallo is truly uncomfortable in New York, which is affecting his ability to produce.)
Now, I don't need to point out the many negatives that also come with Joey Gallo. We are all more than familiar with those things. So the question is who would be interested?
I put together a pretty simple spreadsheet looking at team outfield values from FanGraphs and have put that together, here on Google Slides. Let me explain:
My chart (link above) is not overly complicated, which makes it easy for me to point out where we need to look and makes it easy to explain. So, let's get into it:
I only picked 18 teams to analyze. These teams are either holding onto a divisional lead, a wild card spot, or are within 5 games of a wildcard spot. With how much season is left, I think all of these teams can imagine their getting into the postseason.
Using this sample, I sorted them by 3 different team outfield values from Fangraphs: fWAR, Offense, and Defense. These rankings are based off where they rank across the entire league, with a lower score indicating a worse/lower value. I then ranked teams off their cumulative score (higher is better) relative to the grouping of 18 and assigned them list values (teams in red have the most need).
I then also collected each teams outfield values for offense, defense, and fWAR and divided each value by 3- as to try to see what the average outfield starter is producing for each team. I then compared these values to what Joey Gallo has done in 2022, where stats in green are better, stats in white are about equal, and stats in red are worse.
I have also used the approximate trade value calculations from BaseballTradeValues.com, which is the tool I used to make my trades.
So, with all that covered, let's talk about where the Yankees could reasonably send Joey Gallo.
The Atlanta Braves:
Unlike any of the other teams we've evaluated thus far this week, the Yankees do not have a good trading history with the Atlanta Braves in recent years. Since the end of the 2017 season, the two teams have yet to come together to make a trade. The last trade the two sides made was a trade sending Manny Banuelos to Atlanta for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve in 2015. That was their first trade together since 2009 and before that was a 14 year lull period after a 1995 trade.
Of of the writing of this post, the Atlanta Braves sit at a 48-34 record, they are just 2.5 games back in the NL East, and they are currently holding onto the top NL Wild Card spot with a 4.5 game lead. They have a good-to-great shot at making the playoffs, being listed with an 93% chance according to FiveThirthyEight.
For the Atlanta Braves, I have them ranked as the most needy team (with the team I will announce tomorrow) with outfield help. They have a league-wide bottom-10 outfield defense and an a bottom-5 offense that has brought about a bottom-5 outfield by fWAR. Comparing their average outfielder this year to Joey Gallo, they are better on offense (-3.4 to -4.3), slightly better with fWAR (0.4 to -0.2), and much worse on defense (-6.6 to -4.3).
Their starting left fielder, Guillermo Heredia has hit to a .121/.203/.345 (.548 OPS/47 OPS+) extended triple-slash.
Their starting center fielder, Adam Duvall, has hit to a .205/.272/.376 (.649 OPS/76 OPS+).
And, their starting right fielder, Ronald Acuna Jr., has hit to a .285/.382/.446 (.828 OPS/127 OPS+).
For comparison, Joey Gallo has hit to a .165/.277/.325 (.602 OPS/74 OPS+). He'd be nearly the same as an offensive player as Duvall and he would be a major upgrade over Heredia. And, there is good precedent for the Atlanta Braves acquiring a bunch of outfielders who are being undervalued by their teams at a trade deadline when they are competing for a playoff push.
Joey Gallo's trade worth is approximately +3.6 MTV (million dollar trade value). The two closest players in the Braves system are their #7 prospect, a 24-year-old, right-handed pitcher in Double-A named Freddy Tarnok and their #17 prospect, a 17-year-old, shortstop out of Venezuela named Diego Benitez. Both have a value of +3.4 MTV, however the former is a 3rd round pick who improved a lot in 2020/2021 but is currently struggling in Double-A as the latter is a young talent who just was a Top-10 prospect in the 2021-2022 international class who was just given $2.5 million. It's fair to say Benitez is not a player they'd be willing to dish so soon.
However, Freddy Tarnok would definitely be of interest. While his Double-A stats this season have been a bit underwhelming (4.76 ERA, 14 Games, 56.2 Innings Pitched), he was much better in 2021 (2.60 ERA, 9 Games, 45.0 IP) and we have seen many times that when pitchers repeat at a minor league level, they seem to tend to do worse in that second showing at the level. I think that is where Tarnok currently is. According to his report from the MLB Pipeline, "The Braves think he’s still only scratching the surface in terms of harnessing his stuff, with a big up arrow next to his name". That is certainly promising.
Would the Atlanta Braves be willing to forgo a pitcher in the higher minors to get some- needed- outfield help in the current moment? I don't think it would be unheard of.
Unfortunately, there is no modern/newer tape on Tarnok, so here is some footage of his from 3 years ago by Fangraphs:
Check back tomorrow for team #1 that could be a spot for Joey Gallo!