By Cary Greene
July 9, 2022
This week Ethan Semendinger wrote a nice series that centered on the Yankees potentially trading Joey Gallo and it actually dovetails nicely into some of my thoughts on the matter. Before I get into those thoughts specifically though, isn’t it ironic that many Yankee fans and writers were clamoring fervently for Cashman to acquire Gallo at last July’s MLB Trade Deadline, whereas now, almost all Yankees fans have put that banter one-hundred-percent in reverse and want to see Gallo traded at all costs!
Indeed Yankee fans have turned on Joey Gallo, deeming him an unworthy combatant on baseball’s biggest stage. Just as Antony turned a hostile crowd into a mob against Brutus and Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, so too have baseball writers everywhere turned fickle Yankees fans against Joey Gallo. Frank McCourt once said, “I think there are two cities in the world - New York and Rome.” He went on to say regarding New York, “You sail into the harbor, and Staten Island is on your left, and then you see the Statue of Liberty. This is what everyone in the world has dreams of when they think about New York. And I thought, 'My God, I'm in Heaven. I'll be dancing down Fifth Avenue like Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers.”
Well, Yankee fans feel very similar about the Yankees, who are a team with unrivaled success and history. Just as the ancient proverb says that, “Rome was not built in a day,” neither were the Yankees. New York City expects a baseball season to end with a ticker tape parade and anything short of that used to be unacceptable.
This notion has seemingly dulled though, as younger fans perhaps aren’t quite as fervent as their predecessors. Under Hal Steinbrenner, many newer Yankee fans have been methodically groomed, by years of not quite being good enough, to come to believe that having a good regular season record is the ultimate measure of success. Older fans have become parched though, now that the championship drought has reached 12 long-years. They believe all train-tracks lead to Yankee Stadium, but theirs is a more mystical destination, some borne of which no traveler knows the name, some city, they all seem to hint, even more eternal (to pirate the Richard Le Gallienne quote about roads and Rome).
When older Yankee fans look out into the outfield, they see Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio – and Joey Gallo simply doesn’t cut it! In fact, the very idea of trading for him in the first place didn’t sit well to begin with among many long-time Yankee fans, who took one look at his career strikeout rates and said, “Three-Outcomes be damned, we don’t want this guy around!” To them, it was really that simple. But younger fans had a lot of seemingly good reasons to want Gallo, most of which were based on advanced stats.
Now, all fans are quite happy to jump aboard the “Trade Gallo” train that’s currently seating, soon to depart from New York. The train is already filled with younger fans, who also happily bought their tickets using discount codes provided by sources like StatCast and Fangraphs based on things like Hard-Contact or Launch-Angles or something called BABIP. The cabin of the train is already very noisy - they’re all talking angrily about why Gallo’s wOBA, which must be some obscure stat, isn’t anywhere near his xwOBA - whatever that is?! No matter.
Older fans are filing in and taking their seats and after eavesdropping on those other conversations and perceiving they have something in common with the slick youngsters. They shake their heads in agreement and say things like, “Gallo Stinks” or, “He strikes out too much,” or, “He only has two sacrifice flies in his life.” The younger people though, they just keep talking among themselves, clearly demonstrating their willingness to tolerate strikeouts and also unable to relate to the antiquated notions older fans have when they talk about a player “stinking” or not being willing engage in creating an out simply to advance a base runner.
The train, which will soon be underway, is destined for some lesser city (as of yet unknown) and no one in the Big Apple will care very much where it goes. In fact, this same train-line travels fairly regularly between New York and “wherever” fairly often - transporting players that fickle Yankee fans, both young and old, have given up on. Why, I believe Sonny Gray, went on to become an All-Star after a similar train ride.
I’m actually on the very train we’re discussing right now. I have a seat next to Ethan Semendinger. His father Paul is soon to join us and I believe Andy Singer, among others, is sitting up in first class somewhere as well. I said, “Gallo can’t even hit strikes, he has no idea what he’s doing at the plate” and Ethan replied that I was wrong, citing something called Gallo’s 72.6% Z-Contact rate and saying that his O-Percentage was good, at only 32.1%. I shook my head and agreed, again, no matter! “At least he wants to get rid of Gallo too”, I thought to myself.
After a long conversation on the matter, during which all of the advanced stats were explained to me, to help me understand why so many fans wanted Brian Cashman to trade four prospects that presently have a collective $36.9 MTV for a year-and-a-half of Joey Gallo. It seems it’s all about what Joey Gallo could have done, or should have done, or whatever. Again, no matter. Thankfully the Yankees want to get rid of Gallo because – he stinks!!
Actually, when you’re sitting in this train, it’s always kind of surprising that it takes at least a month to get going, most trains only board for up to 15 minutes, but not this puppy. It seems that its departure date is somehow tied to how desperate some other team is and which one of them gives Brian Cashman the best offer. Hopefully, Cashman gets more for Joey Gallo than he did for Sonny Gray right?
I asked Ethan who he thinks Cashman might be able to get for Gallo. It was then I realized how smart these young people actually are. They actually care about the future and they believe in adding prospects to what is lately a fairly depleted farm system. “Could he be right?” I wondered. Would Cashman trade for a prospect, in the middle of a championship run?
The answer to that question is a resounding, “No Way!” - but I kept this to myself, thinking I too would write an article about how Brian Cashman ought to trade Joey Gallo and wo without further ado, here it is...
Regarding the Marlins as a possible destination, I think Ethan picked a very possible trade partner. Looking at recent Yankees drafts, they’ve gone for several shortstops and several catchers. On the surface, there might be something there. Teams often ignore weaknesses they might have at the big-league level when drafting, but they seldom ignore the weaknesses of their farm system and the Yankee system hasn’t had a Tier-One pitching prospect in a long time. In fact, presently it only has a single Tier-Two prospect and he’s injured (Luis Gil).
I’m thinking the Yankees might be considering using their upcoming first round pick on a left-handed pitcher, since they ignored the best lefty in last year’s draft and let him slip to the Cubs, instead choosing to take Trey Sweeney, adding yet another shortstop of all things to a system that was already loaded at shortstop. Then, they used the International Draft to add another top shortstop.
Could it be that shortstops are generally the best positional athletes and thus, it may be easier for them to transition to other positions than it is for draft picks who play other positions to make a similar change? Well, it may be. Some guy named Mickey Mantle, who played center field for the Yankees of course, started out as a shortstop after all. This falls in line with what Zig Zigler once suggested, “..that we should try to look at our weaknesses and convert them into strengths, for that is success.” Seems like the Yankees might already understand this concept.
Aside from hoarding shortstops, the Yankees might want to add left-handed pitching and corner infielders/outfielders to a system that has largely ignored doing that for many years now. Minor league lefties Jake Eder or Dax Fulton would be two prospects to target who would be better fits with what the Yankee system lacks. However, Brian Cashman and the Yankees are in "fortify the bullpen for a championship-run" mode and they’re also, “looking for outfield help,” per reports from Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Two-options exist for Brian Cashman to pursue. He might attempt to package Gallo with prospects and trade for a fairly impactful player, or he might prefer to trade Gallo straight up while targeting a lefty reliever whose reverse splits against right-handed hitting were good, but who also perhaps has good splits against left-handed hitters as well. After all, in the playoffs the Yankees will likely have to get Raphael Devers out but they’ll also have to find a way to actually get Xander Bogarts, J.D. Martinez, and Jose Altuve out a few times if they want to make it to the World Series.
Could Marlins lefty Steven Okert be an ideal match for what the Yankees would be looking for in a lefty reliever?
Teams interested in Gallo will absolutely view him specifically as an upgrade to whichever player is presently their right fielder.
In the AL, the teams on the outside, looking in are Cleveland, Seattle, Chicago and Texas. The Guardians have Oscar Gonzalez in RF, who's offensively better than Gallo so we can cross them off the list, but the White Sox might see Gallo as an upgrade over AJ Pollock, who's just as bad as Gallo is offensively and downright awful defensively in right field. Unfortunately, the White Sox don’t have a single reliever the Yankees would want, so let’s cross them and the Guardians both off the list of possible trade-partners.
Prior to being traded to the Yankees, Gallo was the face of the Rangers franchise. Texas might consider moving Adolis Garcia back to center field to make room for Gallo which would involve shifting Leody Taveras to the fourth-outfielder role which would make sense for them. But Texas doesn’t match up with the Yankees bullpen needs well at all either. Texas is one of the most likely of teams to want Gallo, they just don't have anything at the major league level that the Yankees would want and since they're rebuilding, the Rangers will likely be very opposed to trading any of their best prospects - who are infinitely more valuable than Gallo is at this point so we can remove them from the list of trade partners for Gallo as well.
Since there isn’t an American League Team that’s really a match with the Yankees for Gallo, so far, the best landing spot for Gallo does appear to be the Marlins. There are still two questions remaining before we settle on the “fish” as the best partners.
1. Would Miami take on Gallo’s remaining $5,125,000 contract?
2. Is there another team that’s even better fit to trade Gallo to?
I’m not sure Miami would be willing to add substantial payroll. They’re a very light-spending team after all. In terms of fit, not only for Gallo but for the Yankees, there is one other team though that might shockingly make sense. How about the Mets?
Starling Marte isn’t a good defensive right fielder, so Gallo is a huge upgrade in the field. If Gallo breaks out of his funk he could actually help the Mets. Imagine an outfield with Nimmo in center field, Gallo in right field, and Marte, who'd be better suited to play left field, platooned with Mark Canha. The math works. The boxes are checked. What would the Yankees perhaps get in return?
Unfortunately, like many teams the Mets are looking to add to their bullpen, not subtract from it. It would be highly unlikely that the Mets would add Gallo but subtract elsewhere. Also, I’m not in love with their farm system. It’s pretty empty outside of a few top prospects and the Mets' best pitching prospects are a long way off.
Enter Jeff McNeil, whom the Yankees have always liked. McNeil as a way to get a left-handed contact hitter into the mix but he’s not being shopped at all. The time to go after him would have been last offseason. He’s a big part of what the Mets are doing right now too and he has about 7 ½ times more MTV than Gallo, so there’s absolutely no deal there that makes sense. Unless…Cashman decided that now was the time to move on from Gleyber Torres, who’s trade value has shot back up this season.
Adding Gleyber Torres to a package that includes Joey Gallo and a lower level prospect might invoke the Mets to at least listen to a deal for McNeil. Throw in a reliever like Lucas Leutge and they’d have a hard time saying no as it’s suddenly a deal that might help both teams. Gallo needs a change of scenery and Torres is very quickly becoming his old self offensively. The Mets might even win this trade if Gallo eventually becomes what his xwOBA says he should eventually do. Gallo might have a big second-half.
This new Yankee Lineup gets Carpenter well deserved additional at bats, entering him into a platoon with Donaldson and actually diminishes the need to trade for Andrew Benintendi. Sell high on Torres, why not? Then, trade for Josh Bell of the Nationals, which would be affordable and give the Yankees a monstrous switch-hitter in between Judge and Stanton.
1. LeMahieu 2B-3B
2. McNeil LF-2B
3. Judge CF-LF
4. Bell - DH-1B
5. Stanton RF-DH
6. Rizzo 1B
7. Carpenter 3B-DH-LF
8. Trevino - C
9. Gonzalez SS -UIF/UOF
Bench: Higgy C, Kiner-Falefa SS, Donaldson 3B-DH
1. LeMahieu 2B-3B
2. Judge CF-LF
3. Bell - DH-1B
4. Stanton RF-DH
5. Rizzo 1B
6. Donaldson 3B-DH
7. Trevino - C
8. Gonzalez - LF
9. Falefa - SS
Bench: Higgy C, Gonzalez , Carpenter 3B-DH-LF
That's my plan!