Should the Yankees go after this verastile veteran bat at the trade deadline?

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
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The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball, and this season could prove to be one of their best chances to get a World Series title. With the best wRC+ and fWAR in the American League, their offense is firing on all cylinders, but they could use some more firepower at the first base position. While Anthony Rizzo is starting to pick things up a bit, his numbers on the season as a whole are disappointing, and if the Yankees want to win the World Series, they’ll have to shore up their right side of the infield.

While Mark Canha is mostly considered an outfielder, the Detroit Tigers have begun using him as an everyday first baseman, where he’s more than held his own. Possessing strong plate skills and a good feel for contact, could the veteran serve as a nice option for the Yankees at first base?

Mark Canha Could Present a Solution For the Yankees at First Base

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
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The Detroit Tigers aren’t out of it, but they could look to flip Mark Canha at this year’s trade deadline as his contract is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. Sitting at 34-36, they aren’t primed for a playoff push as they sit in fourth place of a surprisingly strong American League Central. Detroit doesn’t have the offensive firepower that some of the other teams in that division possess, and that might hold them back from being considered a legitimate contender.

Mark Canha has been their replacement at first base for the struggling Spencer Torkelson, who was optioned down to Triple-A earlier this year due to a horrendous start offensively. Acquired from the Brewers in the offseason, Canha has provided a veteran punch to their offense, with a .347 OBP and 110 wRC+ as a middle-of-the-order bat. The Yankees would likely use him more as a lower-part-of-the-order hitter, where he could thrive as another high-contact bat.

What the Yankees do extremely well (outside of absolutely destroying the ball) is they work the count, having the fourth-most pitches per plate appearance in baseball. They’re fourth in MLB in SEAGER (15.3), a metric that measures your swing decisions, and Canha would further add to this group of smart hitters. He ranks in the 63rd Percentile in SEAGER (15.3) and that’s better than what Anthony Rizzo (13.7) has brought to the table.

Regarding market value, it’s hard to see the Tigers demanding much for Canha, who is in his age-35 season and will be a free agent at the season’s conclusion. The Yankees would be getting a model of consistency, as he’s done as he’s remained roughly 10-20% better than league-average for four years now, even with his game power declining to around a 10-15 HR bat.

At first base, Mark Canha has been a solid defender, as while he has -3 DRS, he also has +1 OAA there, and last season in 127.2 innings there, he had 0 DRS and +1 OAA. The Yankees aren’t getting great defensive production from Anthony Rizzo right now, so the run impact of this change would be essentially a zero. Offensively, however, you could get a solid hitter who doesn’t have the flaws of an older hitter.

He’s hitting .297 against fastballs at or above 95 MPH with a .357 wOBA, and he’s got solid contact skills to pair with a patient eye at the plate. With the Yankees already having their big power hitters in Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton, having a lineup extender is extremely valuable. When you start to envision what this kind of lineup could look like, this team becomes even more exciting:

  1. Anthony Volpe
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Aaron Judge
  4. Alex Verdugo
  5. Giancarlo Stanton
  6. Mark Canha
  7. Austin Wells
  8. Gleyber Torres
  9. DJ LeMahieu

Perhaps the Yankees prefer a left-handed option in the infield (we could see them get two infielders), but if they don’t care about handedness, then Mark Canha could make a ton of sense. This lineup is deep, flush with talented hitters, and it isn’t defensively challenged without Anthony Rizzo there. If they want to get Rizzo in against a tough RHP they certainly can, and this could be a marginal form of improvement that goes a long way in October.

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