Yankees are ‘closely monitoring’ former Yankee-killer for a cheap fix to outfield woes

MLB: New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With the Yankees clearly in need of outfield help, they’ve begun the search for outfield bats. Some reports suggest the Yankees could be looking to get multiple bats in their outfield, and Brian Cashman recently made comments regarding what they’re looking for in the outfield. He floated the idea of either a left-handed bat or a right-handed platoon bat to split time with the likes of Jake Bauers in LF.

After facing Colorado, the Yankees could try to take a player from the opposition. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB reports, one of the names floated around in trade talks is Rockies’ OF Randal Grichuk, who also has a history of killing the Yankees. Having a solid start to his season, Grichuk is hitting over .300 with a 112 wRC+ and posting a 45.2% Hard Hit%.

Playing in Coors boosts his average and OPS, but even park-adjusted metrics think he’s a dominant bat against lefties. Grichuk has a .491 career SLG% against lefties, and with a 130 wRC+ against LHP this year and a 141 against them last year, he’s a legitimate threat against Southpaws. He has a playable 95 wRC+ vs RHP, but you’d imagine that McKinney or Bauers would get those reps (for now).

jake bauers, yankees
May 3, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Jake Bauers (61) watches his solo home run against the Cleveland Guardians during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Bauers reportedly will begin ramping up soon, and if he’s capable of returning, he just adds to the Yankees’ options every single night. Remember, they’re taking it slow with Harrison Bader, giving him frequent off-days, and with Stanton’s ability to consistently play RF again, they’ll need bats who can fill in. This move doesn’t feel like one that would prevent them from getting another, but it’s a way to just add to the depth this team lacks.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is not a reliable defensive LF, botching routes and making poor judgments, something he doesn’t struggle with in CF, and he’s a strong infield defender as well. The Yankees sticking him as the CF when Bader doesn’t play against RHP or having Grichuk play those games against LHP suddenly gives them options, as IKF handles RHP well, and Grichuk has the aforementioned success with lefties.

They could still go out and acquire someone like Cody Bellinger or make a home run swing at Juan Soto or Shohei Ohtani, but Grichuk could be a much quicker solution as well. The market for Ohtani and Soto will drive bidding late into the deadline, but Grichuk’s relatively low value and the Rockies’ poor play could make this an early deadline trade. This team needs help fast, and Grichuk could be one of the first dominoes to fall this July.

MLB: New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies
Jul 14, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Randal Grichuk (15) celebrates his solo home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Grichuk excels in areas the Yankees need help in, boasting a strong average (.300) and on-base percentage (.362), and his ability to generate opposite-field contact is impressive. Despite the baseballs flying in Coors, Statcast estimates that Grichuk would have two more HRs at Yankee Stadium than he does currently (5). He generates plenty of doubles because of his opposite-field power, with 18 doubles in just 55 games.

The Yankees, who have struggled to get consistent power from their outfield, could see a jolt in production with RISP, as their key run producers have failed to cash in for the Yankees in pivotal spots late in games. A struggle that has also cost them games has been their abysmal outfield play defensively in LF, and while Grichuk has deteriorated as a defender in CF, he’s held his own in the corner outfield and boasts impressive arm strength.

The gaps in Yankee Stadium are not nearly as vast as they are in Coors Field, and Grichuk still boasts great grades on his routes. Not the big sexy move that we’re hoping Brian Cashman can find a way to pull, but rather a small one that could be extremely beneficial. Eddie Rosario is one of the most recent examples of a mediocre corner outfielder with strong platoons saving a team’s season at the deadline. Overlaying his spray chart, he might be a HR machine in the Bronx.

A chart with plenty of opposite-field doubles struck to right field, you have to wonder if that swing can translate over to Yankee Stadium. His career in the Bronx has been phenomenal, terrorizing the Yankees for a .865 OPS with seven HRs in 29 games and a .532 SLG% as a visitor. It also prevents anyone else from acquiring him since that team would immediately have a super weapon against the Yankees.

Baseball is a sport that rewards deep lineups that can mix and match to play to their team’s strengths. If the Yankees can make other larger moves, then this could be a budget buy that yields impactful and important results going forward.

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