It’s an open question as to whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, but if they do choose to buy, the standard “add veteran depth pieces” that contending teams often look to do probably isn’t sufficient. This club has half a season to pass or catch a bunch of good teams in the standings, and they need real impact players to do that.
That complicates analysis of the Texas Rangers, who are exactly the kind of team that contenders looking to add depth would be interested in. Brock Holt and Charlie Culberson offer defensive versatility, albeit without much offensive upside. Kyle Gibson is having a career year on the mound, with a 1.98 ERA and 3.42 FIP the best marks of his life. Maybe you expect regression — his xERA is a run and a half higher than ERA, and his xFIP is 3.93 — but at worst, he still offers potential in the third or fourth slot of a contending rotation.
And then of course there are the bullpen options, headed by our old friend Ian Kennedy. He sports a 2.86 ERA and the best K-BB rate of his career as the team’s closer, and as a free agent at the end of the season, is the classic kind of deadline acquisition — a strong reliever that you’re not committed to for long and can ride into a deep playoff run.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, like I said above, they’re sort of beyond bolstering relief depth at this point. They need impact players, and if you want to talk about impact ...
Joey Gallo has 7 home runs in his last 5 games.. he’s gotta be in Top 10 of “Please God Don’t Let Get Them Hot” hitters pic.twitter.com/QbyeXH8Nip— Fuzzy (@fuzzyfromyt) July 1, 2021
In a world without Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo would probably be considered the guy with the most raw power in the game today. He’s sitting at a 143 wRC+ on the season with a .259 ISO, showing that he produces the extra-base hits that the Yankees have been so sorely lacking this season. That .259 ISO would be the best mark on the club, and his wRC+ would put him second behind only Aaron Judge.
The knock on Gallo has always been plate discipline, with a lot of comps made to Adam Dunn that I find very funny because Adam Dunn was really good at baseball for most of his career. Gallo is striking out at a career-low rate this season, and walking at a career high. In fact, his reduction in strikeout rate outpaces almost every Yankee who had at least 100 plate appearances both this year and last:
Gallo’s also about as good in right field as Aaron Judge, with 9 OAA since 2018 and passing the eye test earlier this week:
Joey Gallo robs the Tiger of a home run on the first pitch of the game @Rangers | #StraightUpTX pic.twitter.com/BEW7bwz0vM— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) July 6, 2021
Now Gallo will be costly since he’s under control through the end of next season, and his position does cause some strain on the roster. The Yankees would need to be willing to commit to Aaron Judge in center field — the kind of risky action I’m not sure they’ll take.
Expect the Rangers to be busy in July, with all that veteran depth that contending teams will likely be bidding on. The big fish is Gallo, but it’s hard to see the Yankees adapting the flexibility needed to get him on the roster, much less the prospect cost in dealing for him.