2022 Yankee Potential Trade Deadline Deals - Part One: Do we need to make a deal?

As we approach the All Star break and hit the official midway point of the season with tonight's game against Pittsburgh, it's hard not to look back at what the Yankees have been able to accomplish this season and marvel at how good this team has actually been thus far.

Best record in baseball (58-22)

#1 in runs scored (403)

#1 in fewest runs allowed (241)

#1 run differential (+162)

Best record at home (34-9)

Best record on road (24-13)

Best record against teams over .500 (26-13)

They're 16-5 in games following a loss, 17-7 in one run games, 16-3 in blowouts, 3-0 in interleague games, and have been extremely consistent as well. Their monthly winning percentages are: April .714, May .679, June .786, and even the small sample size in July is .667. Any single one of those months would lead the league for the season. The moral of this story is simple,...This team is good!

The task for Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees organization from here forward will be - How do we transform these results into post season success? This team looks like a well oiled machine, so why mess with what's working? Well, there's plenty of reasons why. Let's take a quick inventory of some of the areas on this team that have underperformed thus far.

Isaiah Kiner-Falefa was never going to be the next Derek Jeter for the Yankees. He was only brought in as a placeholder for one of the two prize shortstop prospects in the minor leagues, Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe. When the Yankees passed up on the all time great SS free agent class this past off season, I believe they thought one of the two would be pushing towards the majors some time this season. It doesn't look like that will be the case. Both started out very slow and are just recently starting to produce at their expected levels. The Yankees may need to find a way to improve on their current SS rankings of #19 War, #17 xRC+, #29 HR, #30 iso if they're going to take the next step. More on this in a later post.

Starting pitching has been fantastic on this team. There are so many reasons for the Yankees to think they don't need to worry about acquiring a starter at the deadline and one giant reason why they should. Their starting unit has the highest WAR in the league, 2nd lowest ERA, 3rd lowest xFIP, and the 4th most innings pitched. That last number is the one that actually concerns me.

Normally, having your starters work deep into games is great for your overall pitching staff and this has played a big part in the Yankees success this season to this point. But what toll will those innings take on these pitchers in late August, or through a long playoff push? Luis Severino has already pitched 60 more innings this season than he had in his previous three seasons combined! It will feel like a miracle if that arm makes it through a full slate this season. Nestor Cortes is approaching his career high in innings of 93 and should eclipse it within his next two starts. That's 2/5 of the rotation that will at very least need to be "managed" to get through the season. The Yankees have shown plenty of depth with JP Sears making some spot starts, Clarke Schmidt and Michael King being previous options, and a couple minor leaguers that could fill in when needed like Wesneski and Waldichuk waiting in the wings. But, I believe this is the area the Yankees could clearly make a statement to the rest of the league and in their own clubhouse, that they are in it to win it this year. Go get that elusive #2 starter, move Nasty Nestor to the bullpen and use him as the best damn swingman in the league. (Remember when we were all asking for an ace and they finally brought in Cole? Ever since, we've been asking for a #2. Does that mean we'll be asking for a #3 if they get a #2?) Given the arsenal that Sevy has at his disposal, and the lack of innings pitched in previous years, he might seem like the better match for the bullpen as an elite back end reliever. I thought the same thing originally, but have spoken with my internal medical advisors(the many voices in my head) and have changed my mind. I'd rather skip a start here or there with him than put him in the bullpen at this point because of the different mindset and approach that comes with pitching out of the bullpen. Relievers typically ramp up their fastball a couple extra miles per hour which might lead to overthrowing. Overthrowing may cause even more strain to an arm that has had trouble holding up in the past. Should Sevy be searching for those extra MPH? I don't think he should, and I think the Yankees shouldn't mess with what's working for him this season. I can't help thinking about the mental gymnastics that Joba Chamberlain had to go through when the Yankees ping ponged his role from starter to reliever and back again and how that pretty much derailed a once promising career. Applying that same approach to the fragile right arm of Luis Severino would be of great concern to me. I haven't been able to access Sevy's medical records, search through sports medicine journals, or consult with any actual medical personnel to come to my assumptions, but my internal medical advisors have strongly recommended to keep Luis in the rotation rather than the bullpen. The continued stress of every pitch being thrown in high leverage situations could be worse for his arm than the wash, rinse, repeat process of throwing every fifth day. Whomever the Yankees choose to send to the bullpen, they should absolutely go get the best pitcher available at the deadline to make this rotation one of the scariest to face in the post season in a very long time. We'll get into the options available in a later post.

Outfielders not named Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have been pretty bad thus far also. Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo sit in the bottom third of the league in WAR and have struggled mightily through most of the season. Hicks has shown a few glimpses of potential break out or at least stabilization, but Gallo has been a disaster. Even in a year with some historically bad batting averages across the league, Joey Gallo is third worst. He has the highest K% and really has never looked comfortable in a Yankee uniform. If the Yankees truly want to compete for a Championship this year, they will need to address the outfield situation before the deadline and this is where we'll start.

Joey Gallo needs to go. The decision to bring him here was sound. People tend to forget the guy had a 139 OPS+ at the time he was traded last year. In fact, the Covid shortened 2020 season is his only below average season since he became a starter in this league posting a 145 OPS+ in 2019 and even including the Yankee portion of 2021 hitting 122. Having a lefty bat sit behind Stanton that could produce 120-140 OPS+ would make this lineup so much deadlier. I mean, think about it,...he was supposed to be insurance for the Yankees in case they lost Aaron Judge to free agency! How ridiculous does that sound right now? He just hasn't been able to put anything together in pinstripes. It's time to move on, which is going to be trickier than people may think. His exit will need to be a two pronged approach. One move to find him a home and another to acquire his replacement.

The Yankees aren't going to DFA Joey Gallo. They traded four prospects to Texas including graduated prospect Glenn Otto and the #4, #7, and #18 currently ranked in the Rangers farm system to acquire Gallo. That's not to say any of these players are world beaters, but I believe Brian Cashman will be looking for something in return for him especially given the stats laid out above from as recent as a year ago. Obviously, they will not get a huge return for Gallo, so we have to get creative. Here's three potential options for the Yankees.

Option 1

Gallo(3.6) to Milwaukee Brewers for Omar Narvaez - C(4.4). This will not be a 1:1 trade. There will need to be a low level prospect and/or some cash going to Milwaukee as well. The Brewers outfield ranks in the bottom half of the league in many categories and they are already rumored to be looking for an upgrade there. Milwaukee isn't going to spend a fortune on anyone and Gallo may be the perfect upside player they can acquire for cheap. Victor Caratini is having a career year in Milwaukee sporting a 134 wRC+ with one additional year of control left. Narvaez is also performing above league average posting a 108 wRC+ while both are plus defenders. I'm not sure Milwaukee will want to trade either away, but if they would be open to it, I'd take either. Omar would be a rental, but could immediately replace Higgy on the roster and his league worst 41 wRC+. This trade solves two problems on the Yankees roster at once, by upgrading the catcher position and removing Gallo from the equation. I'm not sure if either team has any interest in messing with their catching situation, so I'll call this trade the least likely.

Option 2

Gallo(3.6) to Cleveland Guardians for Isaiah Greene - OF(3.4). I presented this trade on BBTV and it's actually getting some good responses for both teams. 6-2 and 5-1 in favor for Cleveland and NY respectively so far. Greene is a fast outfielder that I could see being the lightning to Jasson Dominguez' thunder in a few years. He's nowhere near as highly regarded, as his #26 ranking in Cleveland's system shows, but he could be a reasonable return for the Yankees.

Option 3

Gallo(3.6) to San Diego for any of their top #15-30 prospects. I include this option because San Diego is always looking for an outfield upgrade and have been reported to be interested in Gallo at the deadline last year and again this spring. I don't think there's a doubt the Padres would pick him up off waivers if it got to them, which is why facilitating a trade for a player they like makes more sense for them. This may be the most likely destination for Gallo of the three.

I'm pretty confident that one of the only reasons Gallo hasn't been moved already is the Yankees are looking for a replacement first and moving Gallo too early will make them appear more desperate, raising the price tag on other options. Also, with Gallo out of the mix, an injury to Hicks(like that ever happens), Stanton, or Judge would result in Andujar or Dicastro becoming regulars in the outfield and I don't think that's what Championship caliber teams want in their outfield. Once the trade market starts to actually get moving, the Yankees can bring in an upgrade and put one of these Gallo deals into motion. But what outfield upgrades could we be looking at? That's going to have to wait for part two.

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