Yankees and Mets targeting Rays outfielder via trade

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In the ever-competitive New York baseball landscape, the New York Yankees find themselves vying for talent in a market where the New York Mets, with their newfound financial power under Steve Cohen, are also major players. The Mets have demonstrated their financial might by acquiring stars like Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, contrasting the Yankees’ approach of investing heavily in often injury-prone players. Last season, Carlos Rodon, signed to a six-year, $162 million deal, underperformed, highlighting the risks associated with the Yankees’ strategy.

Pursuing Manuel Margot

Now, as reported by the New York Post, both the Yankees and Mets have set their sights on outfielder Manuel Margot of the Tampa Bay Rays. At 29, Margot isn’t a marquee star, but he offers a reliable defensive presence in the outfield. Notably, in 2021, he excelled defensively, logging 13 defensive runs saved and 16 outs above average over 961.1 innings, primarily in centerfield, a position currently of interest to the Yankees.

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Margot’s offensive output is modest, with a .264 average and a .310 OBP, including four homers and 38 RBIs last season. However, his performance with runners in scoring position, boasting a .293 average and .322 OBP, aligns with Aaron Judge’s stated preference for the team to improve in batting average and clutch hitting.

Margot, capable of strengthening the lower half of the Yankees’ batting order, could be a strategic acquisition, especially considering his contract with the Rays. Slated to earn $9.5 million in 2024, with a mutual option for 2025, Margot might be available for a relatively low cost, potentially even as a salary dump by the Rays.

Financial Considerations and Yankees’ Future Plans

Acquiring Margot could be advantageous for the Yankees, offering solid defense and decent batting, but his $9.5 million salary must be weighed against other potential high-profile pursuits.

With Brian Cashman eyeing Yoshinobu Yamamoto and considering a trade for Juan Soto, budget constraints remain a critical factor. Owner Hal Steinbrenner’s willingness to exceed the final luxury tax threshold could significantly impact the Yankees’ ability to make aggressive moves this offseason.