The New York Yankees have reportedly begun to survey the trade market for potential outfield upgrades amid the continued struggles of Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported Thursday the Yanks' top targets, the Washington Nationals' Juan Soto and Pittsburgh Pirates' Bryan Reynolds, are unlikely to move before the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline, which has led the club to explore secondary options, including:
- Andrew Benintendi (Kansas City Royals)
- Anthony Santander (Baltimore Orioles)
- Ian Happ (Chicago Cubs)
- David Peralta (Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Robbie Grossman (Detroit Tigers)
Gallo possesses prolific power, as evidenced by his back-to-back seasons with at least 40 home runs for the Texas Rangers in 2017 and 2018. He also tallied 38 homers in 2021, which he split between the Rangers and the Yanks.
The 28-year-old slugger has provided a little pop this year with nine homers in 63 games, but his other numbers are borderline dreadful. He's compiled a .165 batting average and .606 OPS while striking out 85 times in 217 plate appearances (39.2 percent, the highest of any player with 200 PA).
"He's got to keep grinding through it," New York manager Aaron Boone told reporters Thursday after Gallo's hitless streak extended to 26 at-bats in a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros. "It's certainly been a challenge."
It's been much the same story for Hicks, who's retained a consistent spot in the starting lineup despite a .622 OPS with three home runs and seven stolen bases in 67 games.
Their lackluster numbers so far haven't held back the Yankees, who own MLB's best record by seven games (56-21) and have scored the league's most runs (384).
Yet, if the Yanks are going to chase down a World Series title, they're eventually going to need more production from the bottom of their order. Catchers Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa have also struggled at the plate.
A player like Soto, whose stock remains sky-high despite underwhelming numbers in 2022, or Reynolds would make the Yanks the undisputed championship favorite.
Without that type of blockbuster, the most intriguing name on the list of trade candidates is Happ, who's tied for 10th in WAR (2.1) among outfielders so far this season, per FanGraphs.
The 2015 first-round pick of the Cubs has posted a .382 on-base percentage so far in 2022, a solid jump from his already strong .344 career OBP. That's exactly the type of player New York could use in the bottom half of its lineup.
It's unclear whether Chicago will move Happ, 27, before this year's deadline since he's still under team control via arbitration for 2023, per Spotrac.
All told, with the Yankees casting a wide net for outfield targets, they're a strong bet to make at least one trade to bolster that portion of the roster in the coming weeks.