The Tuesday Discussion: A Lefty Bat?
This week we asked the writers
If the Yankees can acquire a left-handed hitter for 2021, who should it be?
Here are their responses:
Mike Whiteman – I’ve suggested Joey Gallo before, and received a bit of pushback, saying that his “all or nothing approach” would be redundant in the Yankee lineup. I understand the sentiment, but would offer than his addition would offer more benefits than drawbacks.
Gallo brings tremendous left-handed power to the Yankee lineup, obviously something that’s missing. He isn’t just a masher either, he’s a competent fielder at all outfield spots and first base. He’s even played 92 career games at third base. This flexibility, along with seemingly inevitable injuries Yankees encounter annually, would almost assure that he would get a full season’s worth of playing time. It also answers the question about who backs up Hicks in centerfield.
Gallo really looked to be taking a step forward in 2019, slashing .253/.389/.598 before his season was shortened by injury. Production like this would be welcome in any lineup.
Ed Botti – The perfect fit would have been Christian Yelich, but that ship has sailed. The Yankees selected Giancarlo Stanton over him 3 years ago (yes, I am still bitter over that selection).
Next on my list would have been Michael Brantley, but he is staying with the Asterisks. After that, I would have liked to have seen an attempt to acquire Kyle Schwarber. But they didn’t attempt that either.
Since the everyday lineup is set, I’ll go back to my 2020 trade deadline choice. Tommy La Stella.
He can play multiple positions, and has a solid lefty bat. He doesn’t strike out much. A .275 hitter over his first 7 seasons. He’s a ball player, not a slugger. Something much needed on the 2021 Yankees.
Chris O’Connor – A left-handed hitter that I want to see the Yankees acquire is Tommy La Stella. The Yankees need a left-handed bat to balance out the lineup, but I believe they could also benefit by diversifying their offensive approach with more high-contact, versatile guys. La Stella has one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league and has hit at least .281 in 3 of the past 4 seasons. La Stella can play every position in the infield, giving Boone more flexibility when the injury bug inevitably strikes. Infield depth is an area of need for the team with the outfield appearing to be set with Hicks, Judge, Frazier, Stanton, Tauchman, and possibly Gardy.
Paul Semendinger – Nick Markakis. I don’t see the Yankees adding a lefty bat as a starter unless they make a big trade that would have to include either Luke Voit (to get a left-handed first baseman) or Clint Frazier (to get a left-handed left fielder). There have been rumblings that Frazier is on the block, but as a commenter said the other day, “there are always rumblings that Frazier is being traded.” The more I think about it, the all-righty Yankees will remain that way. I don’t love this – never have.
Where the Yankees have a huge weakness though is having a quality lefty bat on the bench to at least strike some fear into the opposition. Nick Markakis could be that guy. He should be an easy guy to get. He should be inexpensive (he earned just $4M last year). And, at 37-years-old, he should be willing to accept a bench role. Markakis should still have some pop and he has always been able to put the ball in play.
I’d love two lefty bats, but I won’t get greedy. I’d love to see Joey Gallo (Frazier for Gallo right now!), but I don’t see that happening. So, if I can get one lefty bat, Nick’s my guy.
Michael Saffer – If the Yankees could get one more left handed hitter I would like for the them to agree to terms with Brett Gardner for the clubhouse leadership that he offers. I know this post is supposed to be about left handed hitting at Yankee Stadium, but in the dugout, Gardner provides the match when the team needs to get fired up. Plus, since I am supposed to care about the Yankees finances, I am confident that a deal can be reached that both sides can live with. Overall, I think Gardner would fit many roles on the 2021 team.
Ethan Semendinger – I think there are many interesting left-handed hitting options that the Yankees could likely get for around the same contract (or cheaper) that Brett Gardner is likely to cost (which I’m expecting is going to be around $5M). If the Yankees are still looking for a player to fill a utility role, Jonathan Villiar is an incredibly unrated player, is a switch-hitting bat who can play in the infield and outfield while his Spotrac expected contract is at just $2.7M. Another interesting option like Villar would be Dee Strange-Gordon whose expected contract is also at just $2.1M and as a pure left-handed bat who can play 2B/SS and “play” in the outfield and is just a few years removed from a .300 BA season. If we want to look at just outfielders, I do wonder what the cost of Eddie Rosario would be. After he was non-tendered and released by the Twins before his arbitration hearing, I thought his acquisition price would be too high, but now I wonder if he’d be willing to take a cheaper contract to play for a contender.
Owen Hetherington – In my opinion, I think the best left-handed bat the Yankees could get is Brett Gardner. As we get closer to the start of Spring Training, players are coming off the board and it’s going to be tough to make a big signing, while staying under the luxury tax, which is clearly a big goal this offseason for the organization. I think brining back Gardy will bring some leadership to the clubhouse as a price the Yankees will be willing to dish to Gardner. My personal opinion is that Gardy’s market is limited and the price to get him won’t be that much. I think if the Yankees bring him back, he can still contribute to the organization with both his leadership and ability to be the fourth outfielder. I would like to see the Yankees bring him back to give him the send off that he deserves.
Patrick Gunn – I’ll go with Joc Pederson. He fits the Yankees’ need as a power bat from the left side and plays solid outfield defense. He has a rough platoon split, but he doesn’t need to start against lefties with the Bomber’s right-handed pop.