If New York Yankees‘ general manager Brian Cashman is considering making any significant moves at the trade deadline, it will likely be for an outfielder with an above-average offensive performance this season.
The Need for Reinforcements
With Aaron Judge absent for a substantial period and no concrete return date set, the need for reinforcement appears to be a priority. However, the market is projected to be somewhat sparse, so the Yankees will need to pinpoint a valuable asset without overspending or forfeiting key prospects.
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Cody Bellinger: A Potential Fit?
One lefty slugger, 27-year-old Cody Bellinger, has been recurrently linked to the Bombers over the past few months. Bellinger could be a plausible fit, but there’s a risk of a Joey Gallo effect, where he struggles to find his footing in the Bronx and suffers from his currently declining offensive metrics.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com recognizes the Yankees’ need for outfield support and sees Bellinger as a potential trade target. Feinsand noted, “I could see Cody Bellinger as a potential trade target for the Yankees, who would only be responsible for the remainder of his $17.5 million salary (plus a $5 million buyout of his $25 million mutual option for 2024).”
Assessing Bellinger’s Current Performance
This season, Bellinger has been hitting .266 with a .329 OBP, tallying seven homers, 22 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, a 19.8% strikeout rate, an 8.2% walk rate, and 108 wRC+. Despite these numbers being above average, he has been struggling considerably over the past two months.
In May, Bellinger recorded a .226 hit rate with a .276 OBP, and in June, a .250 hit rate with a .2950 OBP. Given his deteriorating performance after a promising start, the Yankees may want to exercise caution when considering acquiring him.
Defensive Asset But an Offensive Liability?
Defensively, Bellinger is an exceptional asset, having played 346.2 innings in the outfield this year, including 77 at first base. While Bellinger traditionally plays center field, he could easily plug into left field at a slightly above-average level. However, the Yankees need to be wary of his offensive output.
The reality is Bellinger does not necessarily represent a championship-level acquisition. He might just be an average fill-in for left field, a position the Yankees could easily bolster with reserve pieces. For a substantial upgrade, they need to be ready to trade some of their top prospects in exchange for an above-average player with a proven track record over the past few years.