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What does the future look like for Joey Gallo?

The Yankees slugger struggled in 2020, leaving some questions for his future.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

It’s more than likely that Joey Gallo will start and end the 2022 season as the New York Yankees left fielder. FanGraph’s Roster Resource has him slated out in left and batting fourth for the Yankees, and his projections look very similar to his output in 2021. Steamer projects him to hit 40 bombs and play decent defense for an output of 3.5 fWAR.

My personal expectations are higher than that since I tend to favor Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, which pegged him as a 92th percentile fielder in 2021. The eye test would agree with that evaluation too. Regardless, Gallo brings value on multiple fronts outside of his above average bat which has much more variance to it. Because of that, it’s quite possible he could pop off for a six-win season and people wouldn’t be all too surprised.

However, it’s not exactly clear how to get that value out of Gallo. He was incredible in 2019 accumulating 3.3 fWAR in 70 games, but he’s never been that productive for an entire season. He’s incredibly talented despite his difficulty of extracting above 50th percentile outcomes relative to himself. Because of that, and Gallo’s weaknesses, it cannot be ruled out that the Yankees may consider other options for their left fielder.

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, you could see Gallo used in more of a platoon or utility role where he moves around the outfield depending on matchups. Could we even see him used in the infield? Anything can happen, but I think that possibility may decrease Gallo’s overall value than increase it and the Yankees need to put the slugger in the correct environment to get above-average outcomes in the outfielder’s last year of his contract.

That said, it’s apparent that the club is also considering other options for Gallo:

These are just rumors and they can’t be taken all that seriously right now. Cashman is not the type of GM to take a loss on a trade after just half of a season, but it cannot be denied that Gallo’s weaknesses don’t match up well with the rest of the Yankees roster. Yes, he is a great defensive outfielder and extremely underrated baserunner, but his most important tool, the bat, is an awkward fit in this current lineup. Unless he ascends closer to his 2019 self, it may make sense for the club to entertain offers that could bolster the team in other areas — but again, this is more of a possibility than a likelihood.

There is a bit of evidence which suggests that the Yankees have not ruled this out though. Their reported interest in Seiya Suzuki indicates that they could be continually evaluating Gallo’s future role. Suzuki is also a corner outfielder who looks like a full-time player. Although, he might not be better than Gallo in terms of total value so the team could be looking at him as more of a fourth outfielder or platoon player — it all depends.

The Yankees have done a wonderful job at getting a lot out of big, athletic players like Judge and Stanton for example. They have even proved over time that they can keep these types of players on the field. Those are important factors to consider when it comes to the team putting Gallo in the right environment to succeed. That’s why I’m actually quite hopeful Gallo could have the best season of his career in pinstripes in 2022. If he’s going to wear the uniform beyond next year, he may need to do just that.