Despite the fact Aaron Judge will presumably return for the Tampa Bay Rays series early next week, and Giancarlo Stanton could play more in the field, the Yankees still have a need for outfielders. Brett Gardner, Ryan LaMarre, Miguel Andújar, Greg Allen, and Clint Frazier don’t appear to be solutions, and the last two are still on the shelf.
Some of the Yankees’ rivals, namely the Rays, have already started making moves before the trade deadline, bringing slugger in Nelson Cruz in exchange for a couple of minor league arms. The Bombers need to address the outfield if they don’t want to fall too far down the standings and miss the playoffs while their rivals buy.
Several top outfielders could become available before July 30. We know the Miami Marlins are not afraid to trade, and speedster Starling Marte can be had. Obtaining the likes of Bryan Reynolds or Joey Gallo could be a little trickier, but not impossible, particularly the latter.
If the Yankees don’t want to part with some of their most prized prospects, they could entertain a deal for Arizona Diamondbacks’ left fielder David Peralta. The soon-to-be 34-year-old is not exactly young, but his left-handed bat could offer some balance to the lineup, and there might be some thump left in it.
Even if his season numbers aren’t otherworldly, we are talking about a career .287/.344/.466 hitter with a 113 wRC+. It would be foolish to part with an Oswald Peraza, an Anthony Volpe, or a Luis Medina for him, but he could be a fine secondary deadline piece as long as the Yankees bring more upside and production in the form of another player.
The 2021 season hasn’t been Peralta’s best, and that’s worth noting. He is batting .256/.328/.400 with a 96 wRC+. He has only five home runs in 92 games and 354 plate appearances, but that could change with a move to Yankee Stadium and, of course, if he manages to lift the ball more.
Even with his struggles, he has been basically a league-average hitter for the worst team in baseball. He has the potential for more, though, as evidenced by his career line and his marks for the last three years: 130 wRC+, 106, and 106 (2018, 2019, and 2020).
Peralta’s issue this year hasn’t been the quantity of contact (his strikeout rate is at a career-low 15.3 percent), but instead, the quality of it. His 2.07 grounders per flyball are his highest mark since 2017. It’s hard to inflict damage pounding the ball into the ground that often.
Let’s not forget that Peralta hit 30 home runs not too long ago, in 2018. He has raw power, as evidenced by his 113.8 mph max exit velocity and his 41.4 percent hard-hit rate in 2021. With him, it’s a matter of lifting the ball more often, which of course is easier said than done.
Again, if the Yankees walk away with only Peralta as a deadline acquisition, it should be viewed as a disappointment. But the organization needs more than just one player if it is determined to save the season at the deadline, and Peralta can contribute on the margins. He won’t carry the team by himself, but he can help.
Perhaps a change of scenery helps jumpstart his season and the prospect of a playoff race increases his production. The Yankees need to move quick, for Peralta or any other potential improvement; otherwise, there will be no campaign to save.