The deed has finally been done. The writing was on the wall for Joey Gallo the moment that the Yankees traded for Andrew Benintendi last week. Honestly, it’s been etched there ever since the Yankees cut Gallo’s playing time at the end of June and announced their intention to pursue outfield help at the trade deadline.
Gallo hanging around the Yankees in a part-time role was never going to make sense, and all sides agreed that they would have to move on. As the 6pm ET trade deadline drew closer on Tuesday afternoon, the Yankees found their prize of last year’s deadline a new home on the West Coast:
Joey Gallo to Dodgers for Beeter per sources pending medical— Pat Ragazzo (@ragazzoreport) August 2, 2022
Jeff Passan of ESPN confirmed Ragazzo’s report. At least it wasn’t within the American League, right? The Dodgers have had their own saga trying to fix Cody Bellinger, so now they’ll take on a second project in Gallo.
As for the minor league pitcher who the Yankees reportedly acquired, Clayton Beeter was the Dodgers’ second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of Texas Tech. The 23-year-old right-hander is ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the Dodgers’ system by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. Beeter’s 5.75 ERA, 5.06 FIP, and 14.3-percent walk rate in 51.2 innings (including 16 starts) at Double-A Tulsa this year aren’t very pretty. However, he has fanned 36.1 percent of hitters while flashing high spin rates, and earlier this year, BA rated his curveball as the best in the Dodgers’ organization.
The Yankees were always going to get a lottery ticket for Gallo at this point, and with his fastball/curveball combo, the team’s pitching experts could probably turn him into a decent reliever, as BA projects.
Clayton Beeter was on for the @TulsaDrillers.— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 29, 2022
The No. 15 @Dodgers prospect equaled a career high with 8 K's over four hitless frames. pic.twitter.com/fs5SfaKDZL
As for the conclusion of the brutal saga of Joey Gallo in New York, far too much digital ink has been spilled, so we’ll keep it relatively brief in his swan song. It was a good idea at the time, as the 2021 Yankees had serious problems with their offense outside of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and Gallo had just appeared in his second All-Star Game. Since becoming a regular with the Rangers in 2017, he’d hit .214/.340/.507 with 138 homers and a 120 wRC+ in 515 games.
The low batting average and high strikeouts were always going to be part of the Gallo equation; the lefty hitter played like that, even at his best. The problem for Gallo in pinstripes was that the power never really showed up on a regular basis — with Texas, his PA/HR ratio was 14.64 since 2017; with New York, it was 20.04. On the whole, he hit .159/.291/.368 with 25 homers and an 88 wRC+ in 140 games, and he only looked more lost as 2022 wore on. Gallo actually struck out and walked at fairly similar rates, but the good contact wasn’t there, as both his average exit velocity and his barrel rate were a few ticks below what they were as a Ranger.
Some fans will look at Gallo’s near-constant slump and say that he just shrugged and refused to change, but that’s just not true. He made tweaks and adjustments; they just didn’t work, and he was never going to be the type of hitter who found success by attempting a more contact-oriented approach. MLB pitching is more difficult to hit than ever these days (not everyone can be as otherworldly as Judge), and for someone who has never thrived on a baseball diamond like that, it was a much riskier endeavor than simply trying find the right adjustment to regain his standard stroke.
Baseball players are not automatons either, and both Gallo and manager Aaron Boone have alluded to how hard the man has taken his struggles. Obviously, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who’s content with how they’re playing when they’re scuffling, but Gallo has really appeared bogged down by the pressure and the boos. It got to the point where he didn’t feel comfortable leaving his Manhattan apartment until it was time to head to the field because he felt ashamed.
I do sincerely hope that Gallo finds his game again because the Gallo I followed in Texas was truly a thrill. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, his teammates loved him, and the four prospects who the Yankees gave up for him have yet to truly channel old Jay Buhner comparisons. It’s just a shame that Gallo didn’t work out.