Insider opens door to Yankees’ possible signing of Garrett Cooper

Former Yankees player Garrett Cooper might be close to rejoining the Bronx Bombers.
AP

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Promoting slugging prospect Ben Rice to replace the injured Anthony Rizzo as the starting first baseman was a smart move by the Yankees. Additionally, they are wisely exploring the open market for potential upgrades. A trade before next month’s deadline is a possibility, and the team could benefit from an infielder who can contribute offensively and play multiple positions. Meanwhile, the Yankees are considering a cost-effective acquisition that wouldn’t involve trading prospects.

On the radar

Former Yankees player Garrett Cooper might be close to rejoining the Bronx Bombers.
The Sun

Robert Murray of FanSided reported that the Yankees have shown interest in signing free agent Garrett Cooper. Cooper, 33, has had a difficult season, having been designated for assignment by both the Cubs and Red Sox. He has batted .206 with a .566 OPS in 36 games, striking out in 30.2 percent of his at-bats. However, Cooper was an All-Star just two years ago and has a career batting average of .265 with significant power. In 2022, he hit .261 with a .752 OPS for the Marlins, playing a career-high 123 games and hitting a personal-best 17 home runs.

Longtime Yankees fans might remember Cooper’s brief stint with the team in 2017. He was acquired from the Brewers in exchange for left-hander Tyler Webb and played the first 13 games of his MLB career in a Yankees uniform that summer. Later, the Yankees traded Cooper and left-hander Caleb Smith for young righty Michael King, who became a centerpiece in a trade for Juan Soto.

If the Yankees aim to strengthen their depth at first base and add a right-handed power bat, Cooper could be a reasonable choice. Throughout his career, Cooper has hit .283 with an .801 OPS against left-handed pitching, suggesting he could form a platoon with Rice, who struggled against Braves southpaw Chris Sale and lefty reliever Dylan Lee on Friday night.

Cooper’s career numbers as a pinch hitter are subpar, but the Yankees might be able to utilize him effectively in a bench role. Additionally, he could be a better option at first base than DJ LeMahieu, who has been hitting .194 since returning from the injured list and has a career-high 59.6 percent ground ball rate, grounding into six double plays in 19 games.

However, unless Cooper can regain his previous form, his acquisition might not be the most effective solution. There are likely better options available, contingent on how aggressive the Yankees decide to be at the deadline and the strategies of other teams on the postseason bubble.

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