Yankees add 2x Gold Glove outfielder to bolster depth

mlb: san diego padres at san francisco giants, trent grisham, yankees
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

While all the focus and hype revolves around Juan Soto and his addition to the Yankees‘ outfield, not many are discussing the impact that Trent Grisham could make if he turns things around in 2024.

Grisham was an additional piece the Yankees gained in the Soto trade, but the 27-year-old outfielder is coming off two down seasons offensively. His best campaign came back in 2020 when he played just 59 games and hit .251/.352/.456 with a 122 wRC+. He’s played over 130 games for three consecutive seasons, with his best coming in 2021. Playing 132 games that season, Grisham hit .242/.327/.413, including 15 home runs, 62 RBIs, and a 104 wRC+.

However, in the last two seasons, Grisham has been a below-average offensive player, hitting .198 in 2023. He hit double-digit homers for four consecutive seasons and recorded a minimum 10.2% walk rate, but he still struggles with high strikeout and chase rates.

Grisham ranks in the 31st percentile in whiff and 20th percentile in strikeout rate, suggesting that he is undisciplined in the batter’s box. Last year, he struggled significantly against breaking and offspeed pitches, having a bit more success against fastball, but still nothing to write home about. His slugging metrics do suggest some upside, posting a 39.9% hard-hit rate, 11.8% barrel rate, and 90.3 average exit velocity last year. If he can make more quality contact, Grisham could capitalize on his lefty bat in Yankee Stadium.

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The Yankees Needed more Outfield Depth

The Yankees desperately needed to reinforce their depth, and Grisham certainly helps in that regard. However, the one part of his game that stands out is his defensive efficiency.

Grisham played 1,276 innings in the outfield last year for San Diego, hosting a .987 percentage, including one defensive run saved and seven outs above average. In 2022, he collected eight defensive runs saved and 14 outs above average, having won two Gold Gloves in the past.

Ultimately, he can serve a good purpose late in games when the Yanks want to boost their defense — he’s played every inning in centerfield since 2019. That is certainly a good asset to have if needed, and his lefty bat could improve with better coaching.

In addition to Grisham, the Yankees have Estevan Florial, Everson Pereira, Oscar Gonzalez, and Oswaldo Cabrera as the primary depth pieces. Of course, some of them will likely transition to Triple-A to continue their development or be released outright. Currently, Florial is facing an uphill battle with the latest additions, so he will need to stand out during spring training to have a chance at cracking the roster.