2015 Statistics: 154 games, .293/.359/.439, 13 HR, 23 SB, 121 wRC+
2016 Age: 26
The free agent outfielder class this offseason features some impressive names with 26-year-old Jason Heyward among them. It is a rare occasion these days that someone as young as Heyward hits the free agent market, putting him in line to receive a hefty deal from his eventual new team at some point between now and spring training. The Yankees have three starting outfielders already on their roster, but a trade could potentially free up some room to bring someone like Heyward aboard if the team is interested in giving out another rich contract.
Brett Gardner has been the subject of trade discussions all offseason with multiple potential destinations being tossed around. The Yankees have reportedly been seeking starting pitching and Gardner's is one of the few contracts they can conceivably trade away for a decent return. When the team acquired Aaron Hicks from the Twins they billed him as a starting caliber player, which means they could potentially feel that he would be enough of a fill in if they were to find a trade that suited them involving Gardner. If they decide not to go with Hicks, though, Heyward would likely be the most attractive of the free agent options.
Heyward was a six-win player for the Cardinals last season after being traded by the Braves. His defense is well-regarded, and his lefty bat would fit well in the friendly dimensions of Yankee Stadium. Heyward doesn't have the typical corner outfield power, but neither does the current Yankee left fielder. He does plenty of other good things offensively and defensively to make up for his lack of prototypical power. Adding him would instantly make the Yankee offense better.
With Carlos Beltran being a year older and really being a liability on defense and Jacoby Ellsbury being a risk to spend time on the disabled list even if he recovers from his disappointing season, the Yankee outfield could use some help. It remains to be seen how long it will take Aaron Judge to adjust to breaking pitches at Triple-A in order to be ready to take over at the big league level. Most Yankees fans would love to see the team make a serious play for Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent, but that's not for a couple years still. Adding someone like Heyward to the defense and the offense would be a huge help right away for a team that just needed to be a little better to advance deeper into the playoffs than the Wild Card game this past season.
Do you think Heyward could be an answer for the Yankees? Is he worth the huge financial commitment he will require?