The Yankees have monitored the third base market, with some reported interest in Matt Chapman earlier during the GM Meetings. While Oswald Peraza and DJ LeMahieu are currently slated to split time at the hot corner, a lot can change between now and the start of Spring Training. A new option has seemingly entered the market, as the Houston Astros might be looking to move a franchise cornerstone entering their final year under contract.
According to Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and followed up by Andy Martino of SNY, the Houston Astros have had trade talks with Alex Bregman’s name involved. With Jose Altuve also set to hit free agency after the 2024 season, could the Astros find themselves forced to deal the two-time All-Star, and could the Yankees throw their name in that ring?
Alex Bregman Could be the Perfect Fit For the Yankees at Third
It’s hard to deny the excellence of Alex Bregman, who has a career 137 wRC+ and 35.2 fWAR in his eight-year career, all of which has been with the Houston Astros. Part of two World Series winners in 2017 and 2022, Bregman is one of the most iconic Astros in their franchise’s history. He’s been consistently an incredible third baseman, with a 125 wRC+ and 4.3 fWAR this past season as he had another season with more walks than strikeouts and over 20 HRs. Bregman is a high-contact hitter with plenty of discipline, and the Yankees would love to weaken the Astros and improve themselves.
While Gio Urshela was a strong Yankee from 2019-2021, the Yankees have failed to have a permanent solution at the hot corner, as former top prospect Miguel Andujar struggled to replicate his rookie season and dealt with injury and Josh Donaldson was a complete disaster. DJ LeMahieu has shown the ability to hold the fort down at the position, but he missed the postseason in 2021 and 2022 due to injuries and this past season saw his wRC+ plummet to 101, and he’s only getting older.
Youngster Oswald Peraza has shown flashes of being a strong defender there, and his athleticism and power are certainly enticing, but he’s yet to see his Triple-A power translate to the Major Leagues. The Yankees are looking for a steady presence at the top of their lineup, so why not go after a hitter with 97 games of postseason experience and a career .373 OBP? One of the biggest concerns immediately would be that Bregman relies heavily on the Crawford Boxes in Houston, but his 135 career wRC+ on the road and higher SLG% away from Minute Maid would suggest he could do fine.
On the other hand, Statcast believes he would have hit just 20 HRs at Yankee Stadium, which is five fewer than he hit this past season. Bregman does possess excellent bat control and the Yankees could see some of his opposite-field flyballs go out in the short porch, but there’s still a valid question about how good Bregman would be away from the Astros. The biggest question that immediately presents itself is one that readers have likely been thinking this entire time:
Would the Astros and Yankees ever trade with each other?
During the 2023 season, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Yankees and Astros had conversations regarding Chas McCormick, and the Astros wisely chose to hold onto him. It’s possible that these two teams would put aside their postseason history displeasure with what occurred in 2017 to make a deal, but is it the likeliest option?
First and foremost, Alex Bregman is a rental; his inclusion on the roster, and the payroll for that matter, likely removes Gleyber Torres from the picture. It also brings into question whether the Yankees could keep Bregman in New York long-term as if they look to acquire a bat like Juan Soto who also has just one year left on his deal, they’d like to extend him. It doesn’t take much to realize that the Yankees would prioritize paying Juan Soto or even pursuing Yoshinobu Yamamoto over going after Alex Bregman, but if they’re willing to shell out top-dollar, the fit makes way too much sense.
The Houston Astros could use pitching which the Yankees have plenty of and the Yankees could use a contact-centric hitter who does well against right-handed pitching. Bregman isn’t left-handed but in his career, he has a 135 wRC+ and .851 OPS against righties, with a 138 wRC+ this past season. Defensively he’s been a solid defender, with +5 DRS this past season and he’s only turning 30 years old this upcoming March.
It would certainly be one of the weirdest trades, and I wouldn’t really bet on it happening, but with this report, it’s hard to argue that Bregman wouldn’t fit what the Yankees need.