Could the Yankees pursue a rare in-division trade for strong outfield bat?

MLB: ALDS-Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the Yankees engaging in conversations with the Boston Red Sox around outfielder Alex Verdugo, that indicates something beyond just interest. It’s possible that the Yankees view in-division trades as a feasible option if the value is there and the Yankees match up extremely well with the Baltimore Orioles. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Anthony Santander has been a switch-hitting titan for an upstart Orioles team that won 100 games and the AL East this past season.

After clubbing 28 HRs with a 119 wRC+, could Anthony Santander be the Yankees’ solution in the corner outfield this upcoming season?

Orioles and Yankees Could Have Interests Align in a Trade

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
Jul 30, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander (25) connects on a double to drive in two runs in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Santander is one of the best power-hitting outfielders in the game, with his 61 HRs since 2022 ranking as the sixth-most for any outfielder over that stretch. While he’s an aggressive hitter who can chase a bit too much, his strong quality of contact and aggression in-zone more than make up for it. There’s a lot of loft in Santander’s swing, with a 49.7% flyball rate that helps him get plenty of pop out of his swing, and he pulls a lot of his flyballs as well.

With a 38.2% pulled flyball rate, his switch-hitting bat fits perfectly in the middle of the lineup for the Yankees, as he’s somebody who would terrorize the short porch in right field and left field as well. Typically, we don’t discuss that part of the ballpark as an advantage, but the change to Camden Yards in left field has created a power outage for right-handed hitters pulling the ball in the air. According to Baseball Savant’s Expected HR metric, Santander would have hit 40 HRs in 2022 and 39 HRs in 2023, which totals 17 more HRs over two years in the Bronx.

His swing is perfect for the Yankees’ short porch, and if the Yankees could add a 30+ HR hitter in their outfield, they’ll gladly take it. He’s pretty evenly split versus right-handers and left-handers, with a slight skew against righties, as he had a .798 OPS against them this past season. Furthermore, he’d also be a great three-hitter due to how often he hits the ball in the air, which would prevent double plays and give protection to Aaron Judge.

The Yankees were one of the worst offenses in baseball against right-handed pitching, posting a .682 OPS and .298 OBP in those matchups. Santander would be a massive upgrade in that department, and the Yankees could certainly use the added left-handed presence. For the Orioles, they desperately need pitching and could look to shed that salary owed to Santander in order to further bolster their pitching staff.

Perhaps the Yankees offer a package that begins with an arm like Jhony Brito, who served a multi-inning relief role to end the season and still has the upside to be a starter in this league. It would certainly be an interesting situation to monitor, as while Santander is set to make $12.7 million and has been part of trade conversations, some reports would suggest that the Orioles will set their price tag high, so teams could have to pay a pretty penny on the trade front for him. If I were to make a trade proposal for the slugger, this is what I think could make sense for both sides:

  • Yankees Receive:
    • Anthony Santander
  • Orioles Receive:
    • Jhony Brito
    • Richard Fitts

Perhaps the Orioles ask for more, and in that case, maybe the Yankees have to search elsewhere for corner outfield help, but I do believe that the Orioles would at least be interested to hear Brian Cashman out. Baltimore needs pitching, the Yankees need hitting, and perhaps these two parties strike on an in-division trade.

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