Was Letting Tauchman Go an Early Mistake?
Yesterday Mike Tauchman made another home-run robbing catch- this time against Juan Soto- as Yankee fans continue to share highlight reel plays of the versatile outfielder the Yankees sent to the San Francisco Giants in late April. Now a month and a half out, let’s see how the trade has played out.
The New York Yankees announced today that they have acquired LHP Wandy Peralta and a player to be named later from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for OF Mike Tauchman. Prior to tonight's game, the Yankees recalled INF/OF Tyler Wade (#14). — New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 27, 2021
The Trade (April 27th, 2021):
In a move that seemingly came out of the blue, the New York Yankees announced on April 27th, 2021 that they had agreed to a deal with the San Francisco Giants to send OF Mike Tauchman for LHP Wandy Peralta and a PTBNL. (It was announced on June 1st, 2021 that the PTBNL is INF Connor Cannon.)
At the time this was a move that made sense. The Yankees had lost Zack Britton before the season, Justin Wilson already had a 10-Day IL stint under his belt, and Darren O’Day was dealing with forearm tightness (that then turned into his current IL stint). With a team built on having a dominant bullpen, the Yankees lost their 2nd best reliever as well as their two cheap veteran arms in a matter of a few weeks at the beginning of the season. Thus, they needed to find some cheap help.
Enter Wandy Peralta, a journeyman reliever who put up a career best 3.29 ERA with the San Francisco Giants in 2020. He was having some troubles early in the 2021 season (a 5.40 ERA over just 8.1 innings), but he was willing to be moved and had a salary of less than $1 Million for the season (a necessity to stay under the luxury tax). But, who could the Yankees give up?
Over the past few years the Yankees have had very good outfield depth, of which often comes to them through reclamation/change-of-scenery/Quad-A players that the Yankees are able to squeeze some magic out of. This happened for the Yankees in 2019 when they traded with the Colorado Rockies for Mike Tauchman (sending back LHP Philip Diehl), of which gave the Yankees 5 playable outfielders with Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Clint Frazier. Given the Yankees injury woes over the past two years, Tauchman found himself in a true 4th OF role as he played 130 of 222 games between 2019 and 2020. This helped Tauchman show off his defensive outfield presence as he also took advantage of a juiced ball to show some promise at the plate. However, in 2021 Tauchman was hitting to a .214/.267/.286 triple-slash (.551 OPS; 57 OPS+) and with a crowded outfield, he was the obvious piece to trade away.
To sum it up, it was two teams trading a depth-piece having a poor start to a season to another who had a need for that type of player (Yankees and releivers; Giants and outfielders).
But, has this played out favorably for the Yankees?
Mike Tauchman vs Yankees OF Options:
Since become a Giant, Mike Tauchman has played in 37 games as he has put up +0.2 bWAR/+0.1 fWAR. This is largely due to his extremes between offense and defense. As a hitter with the Giants, Tauchman has hit to a .179/.303/.286 triple-slash (.589 OPS; 69 OPS+) with 3 HR’s, 12 RBI’s, 1 SB (3 CS), 19 BB, and 35 K’s. However, in 276.1 innings across the outfield, Tauchman has made just 1 error in 61 defense chances while putting up a .984 fielding percentage. His defense and ability to play across the outfield- especially in the spacious Oracle Park- has kept him playing as his best tool as his bat continues to lag behind.
Meanwhile, the Yankees lost Aaron Hicks for the 2021 season and have had to use Brett Gardner as their main center fielder as other players like Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade have gotten much more time in the outfield. Comparatively this is how all four are hitting this year (stats better in bold):
Gardner: .211/.303/.301 (.604 OPS; 73 OPS+) with 1 HR, 6 RBI’s, 1 SB (0 CS), 18 BB’s, and 38 K’s
Frazier: .186/.302/.314 (.616 OPS; 76 OPS+) with 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 SB (0 CS), 24 BB’s and 51 K’s
Andujar: .271/.283/.438 (.720 OPS; 101 OPS+) with 5 HR’s, 8 RBI’s 0 SB (0 CS), 2 BB’s, and 22 K’s
Wade: 256/.293/.308 (.600 OPS; 71 OPS+) with 0 HR’s, 2 RBI’s, 2 SB (2 CS), 2 BB’s, and 12 K’s
Here are the same four with fielding in the outfield (again, better stats in bold):
Gardner: 372.2 OF Innings, 78 Chances, 0 Errors, 1.000 Fielding Percentage
Frazier: 398.2 Innings, 62 Chances, 1 Error, 0.984 Fielding Percentage
Andujar: 168.0 Innings, 37 Chances, 0 Errors, 1.000 Fielding Percentage
Wade: 30.1 Innings, 9 Chances, 0 Errors, 1.000 Fielding Percentage
Now, understandably we’re splitting hairs when it comes to the offensive and defensive value that the Yankees mixture of a 37-year-old, Clint Frazier, third-baseman, and back-up infielder have been able to show over Mike Tauchman. However, with each of them showing better hitting stats (in an already bad offensive outfield) it shows Tauchman wasn’t necessary for this team, and instead the FO were able to get a solid reliever (and a prospect) for him.
Wandy Peralta (And Connor Cannon):
As the Yankees have been able to piece together an outfield that has played better than Tauchman on both sides of the ball, they also got LHP Wandy Peralta in the deal. As a reliever with the Yankees, Peralta has put together the following statistics:
17 Games, 4.38 ERA (95 ERA+), 12.1 Innings, 8 Strikeouts, 5 Walks, 1.135 WHIP, 5.18 FIP
In the Yankees bullpen- of guys who have more than 10 innings- Peralta is actually 3rd lowest by ERA+, but he has given the Yankees yet another league-average reliever to add depth to a bullpen that greatly needed the help. Especially because nobody expected Lucas Luetge to have a 2.97 ERA (138 ERA+). To me, I’d say Peralta has been a better pitcher than Tauchman a hitter/fielder.
Meanwhile, the Yankees also got a 23-year-old first-baseman in Connor Cannon (great name). There isn’t much to say about him besides his evident power output, given he has only played in 37 MiLB games (mostly in Rookie Ball) since getting drafted out of college in 2019. Right now he’s recovering from an offseason wrist surgery, but he’ll be an interesting name to track in 2021/2022 to see if he can make a name for himself. See this blurb from Josh Norris (of BaseballAmerica):
Longer version of Connor Cannon. He has exit velos on par with the very best in the sport but strikes out a ton and had minor wrist surgery over the offseason. #Giants #Yankees — Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 2, 2021
I liked Tauchman with the Yankees. He was fun to watch in the outfield and had some great magic with the bat. Though, I think after his Giants debut (where he went 3-4) Yankees fans have had this illusion that he’s been better than his stats indicate this year. I think this is also exasperated by the lack of great offense from the Yankees outfield this year and the prior magic that Tauchman had shown with the Yankees. However, statistically they’ve been better without him.
Yes, Tauchman will make more flashy plays, but he’ll also be more risky when it comes to making harder plays. Though, he’d most definitely be a defensive upgrade over a Miguel Andujar. However, at the expense of better hitting from Miguel Andujar, it’s not a true contest.
I wish Tauchman the best in San Francisco, but so far it has looked to be the right move to make for the Yankees.