The New York Yankees are in hot pursuit of Chicago Cubs star Cody Bellinger to strengthen their outfield, but one member of the media has thrown out several new names that the Yankees might be better off targeting than the latter.
Can The Yankees Make a Play For Kyle Tucker Before He Re-Ups With the Astros?
Joel Sherman of the New York Post presented Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets), Luis Robert Jr. (Chicago White Sox), and Kyle Tucker (Houston Astros) as three far-fetched options, while offering free agents Kevin Kiermaier and Michael A. Taylor as viable grabs. Sherman first speculated this about Tucker:
“So will Houston just keep everyone and try to win as much as possible with this core and let Bregman and Tucker leave in free agency? Or do they try to get in front of it? Could Tucker handle center field for, say, a year? Even if you don’t think he could, his lefty bat and all-around game should make him interesting to the Yankees and pretty much the whole industry.”
Tucker is coming off of an incredible season that saw him lead the MLB with 112 RBIs and post a .886 OPS. In center field, Tucker produced 303 putouts to only three errors and sported a .990 fielding percentage.
Financially, Tucker comes surprisingly cheap as he just played on a one-year, $5 million deal. However, Astros general manager Dana Brown came out in August and declared that he’ll do everything in his power to keep Tucker in Houston with a long-term extension offer. The Yankees would have to offer a substantial package for Tucker, which would be worth it considering the elite dual-threat he is.
White Sox Have Not Closed the Door on Willingness to Clean House
Unlike Tucker, Nimmo and Robert Jr. carry heavy price tags. Nimmo is in the midst of an eight-year, $160 million deal while Robert Jr. comes more affordable as he’s currently on a six-year, $50 million contract.
The difference is, the White Sox have come out on more than one occasion by stating their willingness to trade just about anybody on their roster. Robert Jr. is the most realistic target of the three, and his 143 starts in center field would allow Aaron Judge to remain in right while current left fielder Jasson Dominguez’s name circulates in trade talks, specifically for LF Juan Soto.
Robert Jr. was an efficient bat this past year and his 80 RBIs at third in the White Sox’s order should be very encouraging for a Yankees team that needs help driving in runs. As a current Silver Slugger and former Gold Glove award winner, Robert Jr. does it all and makes the most sense for the Yankees to push for.
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Kiermaier Presents Defensive Upgrade While Taylor Provides Depth at CF
Elsewhere, Kiermaier has increasingly been linked to the Yankees and the newly named Gold Glove award winner would give the Yankees as good a defender as they can get in center field. He made $9 million this past season and would likely look for a slight uptick in salary after his standout year.
Taylor made the same amount of money as Kiermaier in 2023, but he comes in a rung below the star center fielder at the plate and on defense. He only hit .220 on the year and failed to hit above .167 in both of the Minnesota Twins’ playoff games. He carried an impressive .990 fielding percentage but also committed more errors (3) than assists (1) in the regular season.
Save Nimmo, all of the aforementioned players come cheaper than Bellinger’s $17.5 million salary earned in 2023. Yet, the Yankees are fixed on chasing the former MVP. Should they fail to land him, Robert Jr. and Kiermaier are their best bets from a financial and production standpoint.