When the New York Yankees agreed to a trade with the San Francisco Giants on April 27th that sent outfielder Mike Tauchman out west for a player to be named later and Wandy Peralta, a lot of eyebrows were raised.
Both players were off to slow starts in 2021, but in a pre-Gallo era with Hicks already out for the season and Giancarlo Stanton playing primarily as a designated hitter, the outfield as a whole was viewed as an even weaker position than it currently is. Meanwhile, the bullpen was on the other side of the spectrum, mostly considered as a point of strength for the ball club.
Mike Tauchman had regained his pre-2019 status with a rather underwhelming 2020, but some held out hope that because of the short 60-game season and all that it brought that there was talent left in his bat. Looking back at the results that let Tauchman rise in stature in the first place, however, shows that there was some serious regression due to come.
Tauchman in 2019:
That’s an outlier year if I ever saw one, when a player shows this wide of a gap between his wOBA and xwOBA, and also his batting average and batting average on balls in play you can pretty safely assume that regression is on the menu for the following season. Despite knowing that, it could still be considered questionable to deal from a position of weakness for a position of strength, but this trade illustrates quite well how modern baseball works with the pitching staff, specifically.
You probably heard the expression you can never have any enough pitching — look at the Dodgers for instance, a team that entered the 2021 season with seven legitimate starters and still felt the need to acquire Max Scherzer at the trade deadline. One month your bullpen has a surplus of talent, the next one you could very easily be searching the waiver wire for someone to eat up some meaningful innings. Tauchman was a solid contributor for a season, but the opportunity to acquire an arm that flashed in San Francisco and showed strong peripherals in spite of a slow start in a very short sample size was too good to pass up.
Here we are at the end of the season and not only is Mike Tauchman not even on the Giants’ 26-man postseason roster, but Wandy Peralta had an outstanding season and pitched himself into a meaningful role with the Yankees.
This is how each player performed after the move:
Mike Tauchman (SF)
Wandy Peralta (NYY)
A 4.39 FIP and a strikeout to walk ratio below two are not very encouraging, and this could very well be the best season by Peralta in pinstripes. But even if he comes back down to Earth somewhat, his impact and role within the bullpen should still be more valuable than what Tauchman would’ve provided moving forward. All signs point to that.
In a season filled with questionable moves and outright bad ones like the Luis Cessa trade to the Cincinnati Reds, this one in particular should be highlighted as one of the finest moments for Brian Cashman. Moves in the margins can wind up being the difference between a merely good team and a great one, and the Peralta deal is the latest example of that. The next time that an oddball trade arrives, keep an eye out for an unexpected addition that could help turn a season around.