By most, if not all accounts, the New York Yankees have addressed most of their needs over the offseason. They retained Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge — one of the best first basemen in the league and the newest captain of the most decorated franchise in sports. Then, they went out and signed Carlos Rodón to a better deal than most would have thought, with him going into free agency as one of the premier pitchers on the market.
There is only one position of concern for the Yankees and fans: left field. There has been no concrete evidence that the Yankees don’t feel confident in Oswaldo Cabrera’s ability to play left field. However, having a player that is an outfielder first and foremost is a huge help. It also allows Cabrera to be a vital utility presence, even though many fans want to see him in a role that gets him plenty of plate appearances.
With Andrew Benintendi headed off to the South Side of Chicago to play for the White Sox, Bryan Reynolds is the next best option for a starting left fielder for opening day. A selection to the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, Reynolds has looked strong in the major leagues despite his underwhelming sophomore season in the shortened 2020. He’s slashing .281/.361/.481 over his four seasons in the majors, with a career 126 wRC+ and 12.5 fWAR.
In 2022 specifically, Reynolds slashed .262/.345/.461 with a wRC+ of 125 and 2.9 fWAR while playing below average defensively. It’s important to note that he plays center field for the Pirates, so moving over to left field will be an adjustment, but it could accommodate his talents well. Despite only being in the sixth percentile for outs above average (OAA) per Statcast, he sits 80th in arm strength, and gunning down players from left field with that kind of arm would be plenty of help to the Yankees. However, it has been reported that the Pirates want big prospects in return, specifically in the pitching department, and the Yankees don’t fall among the teams with those assets.
It would surprise me if the Pirates turned down an offer that included Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza, but Hal Steinbrenner made it clear that he wants to see one or both of them in the infield during the 2023 MLB season. He won’t be moving on from them any time soon, especially if he wants to justify not going after one of the bigger middle infielders in free agency like Carlos Correa, who signed with the cross-town rival New York Mets in a shocking turn of events. Also, there’s the argument that Reynolds is not good enough to justify trading prospects of that caliber for him.
The Pirates have made it clear that they want high-profile pitching, and the Yankees only have three pitchers among their top 10 prospects per MLB Pipeline, and they don’t rank very high in the charts either. There are also caveats to that, with Clayton Beeter (ranked ninth) being part of the return in the Joey Gallo trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Luis Gil (ranked 10th) coming off a major Tommy John surgery, which is bound to turn a front office away.
The Yankees could use a strong left fielder for Opening Day. If push comes to shove and Cabrera starts out there, I don’t believe that it’s the end of the world. He has proven to be valuable in that position and getting him more plate appearances is not a bad thing until he shows us that. If that also means not giving away the farm for the Yankees, then that’s the best course of action. Would Reynolds in pinstripes be nice? Of course! He’s a great player that can hit the baseball very well despite some defensive concerns. However, general manager Brian Cashman should not look to trade for him for the sake of trading for him. If the Pirates are not satisfied with the pitchers the Yankees have available, then don’t make any rash decisions.