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Yankees potential trade target: Mark Canha

Could the left fielder across town be the one the Yankees needed all along?

Mark Canha against the Dodgers.
Mark Canha against the Dodgers.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Yankees are in a tough spot. While their top brass has consistently described their championship aspirations, the truth is that the team is barely over .500 and three games out of a playoff spot with only a 30.5-percent chance of claiming one (per FanGraphs). Barring a miraculous run in the lead-up to the August 1st trade deadline, the Yankees will have to keep at least one eye toward the future.

One would think that this would exclude the club from being buyers in at least the rental market. Yet, it’s the Yankees, so you never know — especially if someone fitting their needs flies under the radar and sees their price drop. One such player could be the Mets’ Mark Canha.

Rumor has it that clubs have been calling the Mets about their outfielder/first baseman, but he certainly won’t receive the same amount of attention as some of the Ohtani-level players on the market, so it would definitely still be worth it for the Yankees to check in. While Canha can be a rental, he also comes with an $11.5 million club option for next year that, if he finishes strong, could be worth picking up. Plus, moving to the Bronx from across the city wouldn’t be quite the sea change a typical trade deadline casualty faces; it’s reasonable to anticipate a shorter adjustment period for the current Met.

What would Canha actually bring to the table once adjusted? For starters, though he’s a right-handed swinger, he actually has reverse splits in his career, with a 121 wRC+ against righties and a 110 mark against southpaws. Either way, he can play against both; this year, he’s hit seven points better against lefties (112 vs. 105 wRC+).

Given Anthony Rizzo’s recent struggles and the fact that Canha has taken more reps at first this season than he has since 2019, he could be an option to spell the incumbent against lefties. Rizzo has hit southpaws well this year despite being 11 points of wRC+ worse against them in his career, but since reverse splits are pretty rare, I’d be more confident in Canha’s improvements against left-handers.

Canha’s primary contributions, though, would come in a corner outfield spot. He’s spent the vast majority of his time in left this season and each of the last two. That particular corner has been an area of need for the Yankees all season: from that spot, the club has managed an 85 wRC+, fifth-worst in the majors. Canha’s 109 wRC+, by contrast, would put them in a tie for 11th-best.

That 109 figure would be Canha’s lowest since 2017, but his expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) is right in line with what he’s done each of the past two seasons, making him something of a buy-low. He’s never regained the heights he reached in his breakout 2019, but his current peripherals peg him as above average nonetheless.

In some ways, Canha is one of the best options for the one-foot-in, one-foot-out trade deadline approach the Yankees are likely to employ this year. They have the option to make him more than a pure rental, but won’t be stuck with him if he flounders down the stretch. Additionally, he probably won’t cost as much as other more-controllable deadline pieces like young relievers Alex Lange and Jason Foley, to name two examples. If the Yankees strike deals for Canha and enough other similar pieces while holding onto their prized young players, that just might allow them to make the most of this year and the next.