Yankees claim left-handed hitting outfielder off of waivers and DFA depth infielder

MLB: New York Yankees at Seattle Mariners
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The New York Yankees announced a roster transaction on their off-day, as they’ve added some outfield depth to their 40-man roster in the form of Taylor Trammell. Acquired in the form of a waiver claim, the left-handed hitting outfielder was a former top prospect drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the 35th overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft. Known for monstrous power, he spent the majority of his MLB career with the Seattle Mariners, and his profile does fit the Yankees very well given his excellent raw skills.

He’s registered exit velocities north of 112 MPH at the Major League level, and after posting a 119 wRC+ and hitting 21 home runs in 85 games at Triple-A last season, found himself getting some MLB reps with the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier his season before being designated for assignment. Kevin Smith was DFA’d as the corresponding move for this waiver claim.

Taylor Trammell Claimed Off of Waivers By the Yankees, Kevin Smith DFA’d

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners
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Certainly an interesting decision, the Yankees have chosen to claim an outfielder off of waivers and designated an infielder for assignment. Given their outfield depth and lack of infielders, this move is a head-scratcher, leaving one to wonder if there’s an injury situation that’s yet to be reported. Since Trammel doesn’t have MiLB options, the Yankees cannot send him to Triple-A, so he’ll report to New York and join their bench, one that now no longer has a utility infielder.

DJ LeMahieu is expected to rejoin the team in the coming days as he begins a rehab assignment in Somerset with the Patriots, the team’s Double-A affiliate on Friday. Across 121 MLB games, Trammel has slashed .165/.266/.361 with a 79 wRC+ and 0 WAR, as his offensive skillset is very unpolished. A 17.9% swinging strike rate and 37.3% strikeout rate are signs of some really terrible contact skills, and even in a strong year with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate last season, he had a strikeout rate of 26.6%

What this could indicate is that they want more outfield depth outside of just Everson Pereira in Triple-A, as there’s value to having Trammell on the roster due to his ability to play centerfield. He has +2 Outs Above Average and +2 Defensive Runs Saved in his 782 outfield innings, specializing as a centerfielder.

MLB: New York Yankees at Cleveland Guardians
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Kevin Smith did appear in a game as a pinch-runner for the Yankees, but his time at the Major League level was always expected to be limited. This still comes as a shock since Jon Berti was placed on the IL, but Jahmai Jones is still on the roster and can play some infield if needed. The Yankees have been consistently running out the same infield to open the season, so this could be a sign that they just don’t think Smith can provide as much value as Trammell to the roster.

He could be a pinch-running option or late-game defensive substitution if needed, as he swiped 17 bases in 22 attempts last year at the MiLB level. There’s also a lot of loft in the swing, with a career 45.8% flyball rate, and that could play as a left-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium. It’s the kind of flyer that the organization likes taking as he has solid quality of contact metrics and makes strong swing decisions, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever be able to make enough contact to remain on an MLB roster.

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