Yankees can still land top remaining free-agent left-fielder if asking price comes down

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

Ideally, the New York Yankees would make a last-minute play on the top remaining left-field free agent on the market, Jurickson Profar. Coming from the San Diego Padres, turning down a $7.5 million player option to stay on the West Coast for one more season, Profar saw the market and decided to test the waters in hopes of landing a more prominent deal — nobody seems to be biting the past few weeks.

The Yankees have also been connected to veteran outfielder David Peralta, but Profar offers a legitimate competitor, whereas Peralta is more of a platoon option that doesn’t move the needle much.

The Yankees still would like to bring in another outfielder, but continue to be put off by free agent Jurickson Profar’s asking price. Profar opted out of his contract with the Padres that would have paid him $7.5 million, which he is having trouble achieving on the free-agent market.”

Per Bob Nightengale of the USA Today network.

The Yankees want Jurickson Profar, but he needs to bring his asking price down:

Given the fact that Profar turned down $7.5 million, he’s clearly looking for a bigger payday, but it’s possible he will have to settle for a much smaller deal than anticipated.

Last season, the 29-year-old hit .243 with a .331 OBP, 15 homers, and 58 RBIs with a 15.7% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate. He recorded a 110 wRC+ and was a 2.5 WAR player. However, his Steamer projections have him experiencing a drop-off in efficiency, hitting .241 with a .326 OBP, 12 homers, and 48 RBIs.

The Yankees aren’t so worried about his projections but rather his offensive contributions as a switch-hitting batter. Defensively, he played 1237.2 innings last season in left field, recording a .984 fielding percentage with two defensive runs saved and -5 outs above average.

His defensive statistics aren’t much to write home about, but he does rank in the 67th percentile in arm strength. However, he lands in the 32nd percentile in sprint speed and 37th in outfielder jump. By those metrics, the Yankees shouldn’t expect him to be anything special in the outfield, and his hitting metrics lack significantly in the slugging department. He ranked 22nd percentile in average exit velocity and 19th percentile in hard-hit percentage.

Obviously, Cashman would prefer to go in the direction of Bryan Reynolds or even Max Kepler, who offers stellar defense and a lefty bat with decent power metrics. Giving up prospects and paying the $7 million on his salary may be too much.

The Yankees currently sit only $2 million below the last luxury tax threshold ($293M), a number they’re desperately trying to stay beneath. Unless they manage to offload Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks or end up trading Isiah Kiner-Falefa, they won’t be able to clear enough salary space to make any legit signings before spring training.