With the Yankees in need of rebuilding an outfield corps, and top prospect Jasson Domínguez on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, a division rival could prove a fruitful trading partner. Early offseason reports are that the Rays are looking to shave payroll, and New York is reportedly interested in the versatile outfielder Manuel Margot. We’re talking about the Yankees in that regard, though the Mets have been in on him, too. But does Margot make sense in the Bronx?
Margot, 29, is coming off 1.9 fWAR in 188 games over the last two years, seeing time in all three outfield positions in that span. The righty hitter will earn $9.5 million in 2024 with a mutual option for 2025 — not bad value by any stretch if he can play a full season. Statcast has him as well-above average in outfield range, although his strong arm is less of an asset than you might think.
Margot seems to be exactly the type of player the Yankees have favored over the past few years. He has a few tools — doesn’t strike out very much (albeit with just a 93 wRC+ in 2023), good outfield range, and speed on the bases — and they obviously think they can add or polish one more. If it doesn’t pan out, once Domínguez comes back to center field, the Yankees can push Margot into a backup/fourth outfielder role. Of course, that still leaves the as-yet-undecided job of left fielder open.
Depending on the acquisition cost, I could see Margot being better value than someone like Kevin Kiermaier. The former Ray-turned-Jay will probably sign for more than two years, and certainly for more than the guaranteed money Manuel will cost. Since the Yankees can absorb $9.5 million much easier than the Rays can, it’s not as though a trade would command any of the organization’s top prospects.
A deal for Margot is probably fine, but it stinks a little too much of recent Yankee activity. Find guys with a couple interesting tools but warts around polishing them, or an injury history — Margot is both — and hope you can both unlock some latent talent and stave off injury. More than one person on Twitter commented that Margot is Harrison Bader with worse defense, and there’s some truth in that, but as a fourth outfielder option the Yankees could do worse.
But that’s the thing, it’s as a fourth outfielder option. If come July, he’s playing twice a week filling in late in games or to get Aaron Judge or Juan Soto a half day off, then I’m not gonna spend too much time fretting over a deal for him. I’m worried that the Yankees are banking on more than that out of him though, and they don’t have the best record at avoiding those kind of pitfalls.
You can’t just sit back and wait for the big players to move, and I get that. If the deal is available and helps your overall strategy, make it before someone swipes you. I just want there to be more to the overall strategy than Manuel Margot.