With the 2021 MLB trade deadline looming, nearly all aspects of the New York Yankees roster could use some help. Last week, one writer discussed some trade targets to improve the bullpen. With that said, the Yankees made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for a right-handed reliever, Clay Holmes. While that move alone won’t fix the bullpen, he can prove to be a useful arm and pitch in some big spots for New York. Now it is time to discuss which position players could improve the Yankees lineup. Some of these trade targets would not only improve the offense, but they would also be upgrades when it comes to baserunning and defense.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
To get one of the more obvious trade targets out of the way, Trevor Story would make a huge impact on this team. Despite having a down year, .733 OPS and 89 OPS+, Story is by far the best all-around player on the market. Yes, he has had a down year but does have 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases, putting him on pace for a 20-20 season. He is a gold glove-caliber shortstop as shown by his career 63 defensive runs saved (DRS) and 16.1 ultimate zone rating (UZR). He has also hit 30+ home runs twice in his career and was well on his way to doing that a third time in 2020 if not for the shortened season.
Trevor Story has been a top-5 shortstop in the game since his rookie year, and a down-first half has not changed that perception. He has power to all fields and would be very successful at Yankee Stadium. If traded, it remains to be seen whether Story would be with New York long-term or just the remainder of 2021. His defense, speed, and power would be a great boost to the roster.
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Joey Gallo is another obvious trade target for the Yankees. The Texas Rangers would want a haul for Gallo as he is not a free agent until after the 2022 season. While many traditional fans bemoan Gallo for his low-average, high-power type of play, his impact on the Yankees would be great. He is a lefty bat the team plug into the middle of the order that would take full advantage of the short porch in right. Not only that, but he is also a gold glove defender that would immediately slot into left field. He is versatile in that he can play all three outfield positions, and first base. Left field and center field have been particular areas of weakness for this team.
It is safe to say that his production on both sides of the ball would greatly benefit the team. Despite Gallo being 6’5 with all the power in the world, he can even run a little bit, ranking in the 57th percentile (27.3 ft/sec) in sprint speed which already makes him faster than most players on the Yankees. The Rangers would understandably require a lot in a deal for Gallo, but he is someone that would improve the Yankees not only in 2021 but in 2022 as well.
Starling Marte, Miami Marlins
Along with Gallo and Story, Starling Marte is another highly talked about trade target for New York. Those three all talked about the most because they would represent immediate upgrades to the team. Marte is a free agent after the season, so the Yankees would not offer the Miami Marlins a haul. However, Marte is someone the Yankees could retain in free agency as he likely will not come at an exorbitant price. Marte is a 32-year-old outfielder who is having one of the best seasons of his career. His .855 OPS and 135 OPS+ are the best of his career. While his power is down this year (only seven home runs), he is on pace to steal 30 or more bases for the sixth time in his career.
With a career slash line of .288/.345/.450, Marte has always been an above-average player. Even as he gets into his 30s, his 28.3 ft/sec sprint speed ranks in the 83rd percentile in the sport. His defense has also remained great, and similar to Gallo could play either left or center field for the Yankees. Marte’s barrel rate and walk rate are by far the best of his career, which makes his outlook promising moving forward.
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are in sell mode and one of their upcoming free agents is first baseman, Anthony Rizzo. He is a left-handed first baseman who would fit very well on this team and within Yankee Stadium. Rizzo is also someone that Yankees brass should potentially be interested in given his above-average walk rates and low strikeout rates. It remains to be seen if the Cubs would part ways with Rizzo considering he is a fan favorite and the ‘Mr. Cub’ of the 21st century. He has been one of the most consistently great players in the game since 2014, sporting a .884 OPS, 135 OPS+, and multiple top-10 MVP finishes in that span.
2021 has been a down year for Rizzo, yet he still has a .787 OPS and 114 OPS+. Even if he is not the same player he was in the mid-2010s, Rizzo is someone who would provide a big boost to New York’s lineup. His consistent quality of at bats behind a player like Aaron Judge would make an immediate impact. The only problem is Rizzo is that he is strictly a first baseman, meaning the Yankees might have to part ways with Luke Voit (not a free agent until 2025) or do some shuffling with some of their key infielders.
David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks
Similar to Rizzo, David Perelta is not having his best season in 2021 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Also similar to Rizzo, however, is the fact that Peralta boasts a consistent track record. Despite not as strong a track record as Rizzo or as much of an all around game as Marte, Peralta has a few things working in his favor that would benefit New York. One, he is a left-handed bat with some power. Two, he plays left field and is a clear upgrade at that position for New York. Three, he is currently on a team-friendly contract in which he is paid $7.5 million in 2022. Peralta has only hit 30 or more home runs in a season once in his career, yet has posted a career .810 OPS and 112 OPS+.
Each of these trade targets can improve the Yankees roster in multiple ways. Whether it is the speed and defense of Marte or Story, the lefty power bat of Joey Gallo, or the consistent performances of Rizzo and Peralta, each would make the Yankees a better team in the present. They each also play positions in which the Yankees have struggled this year. It is unclear how active Brian Cashman and company will be at this year’s deadline, but the lineup needs to be improve, and these trade targets are a good place to start.
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