MLB insider: Yankees are in trade talks with Twins, Diamondbacks for outfielders

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The Yankees are in talks with the Twins and the Diamondbacks for the potential trading of their outfielders, according to MLB insider and The New York Post writer Joel Sherman. Both teams have some good, young outfielders that New York can get without splashing big.

The Yankees won’t be the only ones to call these teams about their good-looking outfielders, though. Previous news about the D-Backs said that the Brewers, Blue Jays, A’s, Marlins, White Sox, and Reds were all interested. Sherman says that the Mets are also called.

At present, the Yankees have confirmed positions for two — Harrison Bader in the center field and Aaron Judge in the right field. They need at least two more outfielders. Singing back free-agent Andrew Benintendi is an option, but the position on the left field is still uncertain.

Also, Benintendi is still a free agent if the Yankees can’t find a deal they like on the trade market. Sherman says that Benintendi wants a five-year contract, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that happened. This offseason, a lot of players got deals that were much longer than expected. Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Brandon Nimmo all got deals that were at least three years longer than expected. Now that Judge and Nimmo have been taken off the market, Benintendi is arguably the best free-agent outfielder left. This could mean that his market is about to pick up.

That means that Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera are the only other options the Yankees can bank on. Aged 33, Hicks is has not been up to the mark. For a team like the Yankees that wants to win right away, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to use him every day.

Cabrera just started playing in the major leagues, so he has only played 44 games. He did well during that time, but he is a natural infielder who had to learn how to play outfield on the fly. This means that he is probably best used as a utility player rather than as a regular player.

The Yankees’ choice of trade partners also makes sense. Recently, it was said that the Twins were interested in trading Max Kepler, even though they have a lot of other outfielders on their roster. Kepler, on the other hand, has one year left on his contract, but the team can choose to keep him for another year in 2024. In 2023, his salary will be $8.5 million, and the $10 million option can be bought out for $1 million. Kepler’s career batting line of .232/.317/.427 gives him a wRC+ of 101, which is right around the league average. But because of how he plays defense, he has been a consistently good player. FanGraphs says that he has produced at least 2.0 wins above replacement in each of the last six full seasons. He also added 1.1 fWAR in 2020.

The Diamondbacks have a lot of young outfielders, some of whom have been talked about in trade talks. Corbin Carroll is thought to be one of the best young players in the game, but he is the hardest to get. But besides him, the team’s outfield is made up of Daulton Varsho, Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas, Pavin Smith, Dominic Fletcher, and Kyle Lewis. Except for Lewis, all of those players hit left-handed, just like Kepler.

There are a couple of reasons why the Yankees could use a left-handed batter. Most of the players bat right-handed. Anthony Rizzo is the only left-handed player who is likely to play regularly right now. Second, the club’s “short porch” in the right field tends to make left-handed batters more valuable. When infield shifts are banned in 2023, a left-handed pitcher for the Yankees could sell out for hard contact and not have to worry as much about liners and ground balls being caught by the defense.

Sherman thinks that the Yankees would rather have Varsho as their target than Thomas. Given Varsho’s strong debut campaign in 2022, that’s not a strange choice to make. He had a batting line of.235/.302/.443, which gave him a wRC+ of 106. He hit 27 home runs and stole 16 bases. Varsho was also a great fielder. His all-around play gave him a 4.6 fWAR for the year. Thomas, on the other hand, only hit .231/.275/.344 in his first MLB game, giving him a wRC+ of 71. He was also a good defender, and he was only 22 years old. In April, he would turn 23. He could still become a great big-league player, but it might take a while.

The Mets were reportedly trying to get Thomas, but didn’t go for him. If the Mets thought the price for Thomas was too high, it’s reasonable to wonder if the Yankees would be willing to pay that price or even go higher for Varsho.

Sherman thinks that the Yankees might want to stay under the third CBT tier of $273 million if they want to avoid having to pay the competitive balance tax. This could affect whether or not the Yankees go after a free agent. If the team went over that line, the fines would go up and the top pick in the 2023 draft would be moved back ten spots. With their payroll already crossing $261 million, which means that if they add Benintendi or another important player, they might try to find ways to save money by trading Hicks or Josh Donaldson.

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