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Yankees trade Jake Bauers to Brewers for two minor leaguers

Bauers had a few big hits for the Bombers, but now he’ll be a resident of Cream City.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday marks the deadline for MLB teams to tender 2024 contracts to players on their 40-man roster, so naturally, there has been a bunch of minor activity over the past 24 hours or so as clubs scramble to make decisions. One such player who the Yankees had to address was outfielder Jake Bauers. He was among those on the chopping block, and he’s the first to get the axe in a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor leaguers Jace Avina and Brian Sánchez.

A former top prospect brought in via a forgotten trade with the Reds in June 2022, Bauers returned in 2023 and briefly took advantage of his opportunities when New York needed help. His cumulative 89 wRC+ wasn’t great, but he did sock 12 home runs in 272 plate appearances — almost entirely against righties. The Yankees needed as much outfield pop as they could get this year, especially from a lefty like Bauers, and he provided some worthwhile contributions in the ill-fated season.

Although Bauers had his moments in pinstripes, the Yankees ultimately made what looks like the right call in returning some value for him. Since they need much more than Bauers to substantially improve in 2024, he likely would have been non-tendered anyway had a trade not come to fruition.

Sánchez, an outfielder, is just 19 years old and was signed out of Venezuela in February, which means he hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunities for scouts to profile him as a prospect just yet. He had a solid abbreviated year in rookie ball for the DSL Brewers, logging 128 PA and an .860 OPS. Most intriguing was his .414 on-base percentage and 20 walks in those plate appearances, certainly notable for a teenager in his first year of pro ball. Sánchez has wheels, too, and stole eight bases in his limited action. The Yankees assigned him to their own DSL team and he’ll likely continue to get his feet wet in Rookie ball.

Avina is a 20-year-old outfielder drafted in 2021, when Milwaukee took him out of a Nevada high school as their 14th-round selection. He has a bit more of a track record than Sanchez, and has accumulated 667 PA in Rookie ball and Low-A. After grading out as the Brewers’ 29th-rated prospect per MLB Pipeline*, he could crack the top 30 for the Bombers in a list with several recent graduates.

*For more context on these minor leaguers, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser tweeted that neither would’ve been ranked among the Brewers’ upcoming Top 30 prospects.

A right-handed hitter, Avina shot out of the gate in his initial 2021 action, winning the Arizona Complex League MVP. He hasn’t quite recaptured that level of play in A-ball in a troubling plateau. As a hitter he has tremendous power, but that comes with its drawbacks. He carries a strikeout rate of almost 35 percent in pro ball. Avina is considered a prospect with a ton of potential but also some major red flags in the amount of swing-and-miss in his game.

Bauers was somewhat of a sell-high player given 2023 was his best year offensively, so the logic is clear. Here’s hoping at least one of Sánchez or Avina pans out.