Five Players for the New York Yankees to Target in Trade Discussions
Coming into this offseason, there were a plethora of really good players that were rumored to be on the move and some of those individuals have already been traded. Lance Lynn was traded to the Chicago White Sox, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell went to the San Diego Padres, and Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco were traded to the New York Mets. Therefore, who is next? While the New York Yankees are not expected to spend much money this winter, it is clear that the team needs to make some moves to improve their roster. There are five intriguing trade targets for the Yankees that are highlighted in this article whose names have been rumored, whether in the past or present, that would instantly improve the Yankees roster.
There is a very real case to be made that Trevor Story is the best shortstop in the league. His blend of power, speed and elite defense would suit any team in baseball. However, he is only 28 years old and will command a large contract in free agency next season. One of the teams that could afford such a contract is the Yankees. New York has a need for a stable defensive shortstop which was highlighted by Gleyber Torres’ woes in 2020. Story’s 19 defensive runs saved (DRS) throughout the last two seasons ranks fourth in baseball among shortstops. His 9.9 baserunning rating on FanGraphs (BsR) ranks third in all of baseball during that span as well. In addition, he hit 37 and 35 home runs, respectively, in 2018 and 2019 before hitting 11 during the 2020 season.
It’s not only that he has significant power for a shortstop, he can hit home runs to all fields. According to his home run spray chart on Baseball Savant from 2019, 16 went to right or center field. This type of opposite-field power players very well at Yankee Stadium, as DJ LeMahieu displayed over the last two years. The fit for Story on the Yankees is very obvious. While the top priority for New York still seems to be to sign LeMahieu, trading for Story then extending him might be a better decision.
The Yankees’ biggest weakness is their starting rotation as they lack the type of high-ceiling, high-floor pitchers that other contenders have. Joe Musgrove is perhaps most known for his role in the Gerrit Cole trade, yet he has been quite good since 2018. With two years remaining before free agency, Musgrove would be an ideal trade target for New York. His 4.23 ERA and 3.69 FIP since 2018 are solid; however, his 2020 was the best season to date. He posted a career-best 3.42 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, and 12.5 K/9. Per Baseball Savant, he ranked in the top-7% of the league in exit velocity (85.1 mph), top-10% in K rate (33.1%), and top-12% in xSLG (.311). All signs point to Musgrove’s 2020 breakout as the real thing. He is a pitcher who relies on soft contact and suppressing home runs which makes him a perfect trade target.
Furthermore, Musgrove adds instant credibility to a Yankees rotation that lacks any sort of durability or consistency behind Gerrit Cole. Especially with Luis Severino out until at least June, it is important for New York to acquire pitchers who are more than just depth starters, such as Michael King or Jonathan Loaisiga. Jordan Montgomery, Devi Garcia, and Domingo German are question marks when it comes to how consistent they will perform. All of these reasons would make someone like Joe Musgrove even more valuable for New York.
Gary Sanchez has not lived up to his potential, to say the least. Many Yankees fans have called for Kyle Higashioka to start, for the Yankees to trade Sanchez, or to sign free agent J.T. Realmuto. How about a trade for Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs? Similar to Sanchez, he has two years remaining until free agency. While arguably no catcher in baseball history has the type of power that Sanchez possesses, Contreras is a good all-around player hits for a higher average and is more athletic. Contreras graded out as just better than league-average in both DRS (+1) and framing (+1.7) in 2020 while hitting for a 109 wRC+. In fact, his 121 wRC+ since the start of 2019 ranks first in baseball among catchers (min. 600 plate appearances).
Contreras is slated to earn $6.2 million in 2021 according to Spotrac, whereas Sanchez is slated to earn $5.75 million. That sort of money is negligible, yet what Sanchez possesses in power potential, Contreras makes up for in dependability. The Cubs’ asking price would be high, but Contreras is one of these Yankees trade targets who would be worth the package.
Not many casual baseball fans know who Marco Gonzales is. However, he has been the ace of the Seattle Mariners for a few years now. He has put up a 3.85 ERA and 3.75 FIP since the start of 2019. Furthermore, he threw a career-high 203 innings in 2019 and 69 innings over 11 great starts in 2020. Gonzales has exceptional control, displayed by his 2.5% walk rate that ranked in the top-1% of the league. Similar to Musgrove, Gonzales is a pitcher who is not an elite pitcher but can slot in very nicely behind Gerrit Cole in the rotation.
He is going into his age-29 season and is signed to an affordable contract worth $30 million throughout the next four years. The Mariners will have a high asking price for Gonzales because of that. However, this is a move that would make a lot of sense for the Yankees considering their emphasis on payroll flexibility and their need for consistent and durable starters. As long as GM Jerry DiPoto is still running the team, players like Gonzales will always be available for the right deal. Gonzalez is perhaps one of the most intriguing Yankees trade targets despite not being very well known.
Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians is one of the more unlikely Yankees trade targets on this list. He is an excellent player who has finished top-3 in AL MVP voting in three of the last four years. Not only is he an outstanding player, but Ramirez is also on a cheap contract that is slated to pay him only $9 million in 2021. In addition, he has two team options in 2022 and 2023 that are worth a total of $24 million. He can also play second and third base at an above-average level. His cheap contract and positional flexibility make him an obvious trade target for the Yankees. Ramirez is also a switch-hitter who can provide left-handed power in the middle of the lineup. His cheap contract and recent success make him a very expensive trade target but one who will ultimately be worth it for New York.
Players Mentioned: Lance Lynn, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Story, DJ LeMahieu, Joe Musgrove, Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Jordan Montgomery, Devi Garcia, Domingo German, Gary Sanchez, Kyle Higashioka, J.T. Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Marco Gonzales, Jose Ramirez
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