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Yankees potential trade target: Mitch Haniger

The Yankees can appease some of their short-term performance goals without upending their long-term financial ones by trading for Mitch Haniger.

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

With a righty-heavy lineup that’s performed better against lefties (111 wRC+) than lefties (96), the Yankees’ offense would likely be best served by a left-handed batter who mashes righties and pulls the ball. Also, the fact that the team has but one reliably good outfielder with veritable big league experience and one who apparently no longer plays the field, the Yankees could certainly make use of an upgrade out there immediately.

If you were to close your eyes and imagine such a player, you might summon an image of a six-foot-five-inch left-handed slugger currently roaming the grounds of Globe Life Park’s right field in Arlington. However, Joey Gallo, his sweet, sweet .893 OPS, Gold Glove defense, and bargain-bin $6.2 million salary will cost a pretty penny on the trade market.

If the Yankees are unwilling to fork over the prospects and luxury tax bill it’d likely take to acquire Gallo, and certainly, to retain him, they might be wont to snag another good hitter at the deadline — albeit one who might not be optimized to the current constructions of the Yankees’ lineup or ballpark.

For half the price, in salary and possibly prospects, the Yankees could likely land the just-OK Mariners’ best hitter and reigning American League player of the week, Mitch Haniger. Although just 3.5 games removed from the second AL Wild Card spot, the Mariners have overperformed with a -49 run differential and seem unlikely to stay in the hunt to the finish line. Thus, GM Jerry Dipoto may soon be apt to sell off the assets extricable from their future at the deadline. Atop opponents’ wish lists of the Mariners’ wares stands Haniger.

Despite his undoubted right-handedness, Mitch Haniger has been about even in his career against righties and lefties, with a career cross-matched OPS just 28 points lower than his mark against righties. This season, though, his OPS against lefties has significantly juiced his overall production, lifting his .794 OPS against righties with his .904 mark against lefties to an .829 overall, right in line with his career average of .828.

Also putting a Haniger’s profile at odds with a best-case scenario for playing in the Bronx, the bulk of his power comes from the pull side, as all but 3 of his 22 homers this season have come from left of dead-centerfield. However, he’s hit 22 freaking homers, six more than all of the Yankees’ left fielders combined.

Haniger’s bat would provide a serious jolt to a lineup that looked in need of one until Greg Allen apparently leeched Ronald Acuña Jr.’s powers from him like New York’s very own Monstar. If Allen eventually comes down to earth (he's currently sporting an OPS of 1.458 in 12 plate appearances) — which he will — the Yankees could absolutely benefit from Haniger’s bat in the lineup over the lesser three of Gardner’s, Frazier’s, LaMarre’s, or Allen’s.

Thankfully for those lost in the outfield like Nelson Cruz and Yordan Álvarez, the designated hitter exists in the American League. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Giancarlo “The Artist Formerly Known as Mike” Stanton is now seemingly a full-time DH per the Yankees’ edict, clogging up the spot for any inbound slugger. Haniger himself has started 67 games in right along with 22 at the DH this season for Seattle.

In the outfield though, Haniger has been a disaster, posting fourth percentile Outs Above Average, just a bit worse than his generally bad defense (outside of last year’s aberrant above average D). This is where Haniger particularly diverges from the Gold Glove-winning Gallo in the aforementioned comparison. However, with the Yankees’ hypothetical plans to get G in the field when the Yankees journey to Miami at the end of the month, Stanton could ease into a part-time fielding role, splitting time with Haniger in left if the Yankees were to trade for him. Still, the combination of the two out there wouldn’t exactly improve the Yankees’ already-paltry defense.

Despite the imperfect fit, adding Haniger could appease the Yankees’ cost-conscious front office while boosting the offense with another All-Star caliber bat. The defense would be suspect to say the least, but it’s something the team could work around, especially if they’re willing to start letting big G graze. With Haniger in tow, the Yankees’ offense (on paper of course), would look as potent as any Bomber squad’s in recent memory.