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Yankees Potential Trade Target: Austin Slater

Slater is an intriguing option for the Yankees’ outfield.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Austin Slater is one of a few names in what is now a somewhat-crowded Giants outfield and could be an interesting option for the Yankees. This is particularly true as the team looks for players with the capability of covering center field, if needed, or even playing there as their primary position.

The most rumored suitor for Aaron Judge outside the Yankees is in a weird situation. The San Francisco Giants missed out on the AL MVP, and backed out of the Carlos Correa deal. Now needing to make some form of response in the market, team president Farhan Zaidi went out and signed Michael Conforto on a short-term deal. The Giants had already brought back Joc Pederson after the 2022 All-Star accepted the team’s qualifying offer and with J.D. Davis finding success in the Bay Area after the trade with the Mets at the deadline, those two are likely to work in some sort of platoon duty.

Austin Slater still has plenty of space in the Giants roster, and this isn’t a trade that San Francisco would make just to clear room. After all, he is their best right-handed option in center field, but in the remote possibility that the Giants do like a certain package that the Yankees could offer, he would fit in like a glove.

Slater has been a successful part-time player for the Giants over these past three seasons and Is just the kind of depth piece, every contending team needs around the edges. In 2020 and 2021, Slater’s platoon role was justified, as the outfielder struggled heavily against right-handed pitching, slugging .383 and .267 in those respective seasons against same-handed pitchers.

However, in 2022, Slater showcased much more steady hitting against right-handers, with a .710 OPS, still below his mark against left-handers. Still, it was solid enough for part of the Giants fan base to clamor for more at-bats for Slater, especially with down years from Mike Yastrzemski and Tommy La Stella.

One of the paths for an Austin Slater acquisition would be his desire to play every day, and the Giants possibly looking for a platoon replacement. As his numbers against righties improved, his stats against southpaws — which ultimately is what he is paid to do — dipped.

Slater’s OPS versus LHP:

2020: 1.127 (*shorter sample size)

2021: .894

2022: .824

While the Yankees wouldn’t be likely to just hand Slater an everyday role, he certainly could earn that chance in center field, especially with the fact he’s shown himself to be a plus defender, ranking in the 75th percentile in Outs Above Average in 2022, and 83rd, the year prior.

It can’t be stressed enough that this deal isn’t particularly likely. Nonetheless, as this team continues to look for options to add to its outfield, especially ones who can handle center, as the organization probably wants to keep Judge in right, Slater is an affordable option with upside, whose availability may be in play, at the right cost.

As we look at the market right now, there aren’t many options that fill all these boxes, and Slater is one of them (like his teammate Yastrzemski, who Josh discussed earlier today). The 30-year-old outfielder is controllable through two more years before reaching free agency in 2025, which also comes in play, boosting his trade value for the Giants.