Yankees could acquire Cubs outfielder to strengthen left field

chicago cubs, yankees, cody bellinger
Apr 21, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger (24) looks at the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout after hitting a home run during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees urgently need to find an upgrade for left field. Oswaldo Cabrera secured the position during spring training but has struggled at the plate, hitting only .211 with a .238 OBP. The 24-year-old has ample time and leeway to develop his offensive skills, but with injuries plaguing the team, the Yankees require additional outfield support.

Cabrera has a 40 wRC+ and a 3.8% walk rate, down 5% from his 2022 number. Although he is expected to eventually fill a valuable super-utility role, the Yankees currently need better production from left field.

Cabrera is not the only one struggling, as Aaron Hicks, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Franchy Cordero have also faltered. Hicks is hitting .147 with a .237 OBP, Kiner-Falefa has a .163 average with a .217 OBP, and Cordero is hitting a dismal .160 with a .192 OBP after a promising start.

The Yankees must seek more competition in the outfield, even if it involves calling up Jake Bauers, a former top prospect excelling in Triple-A Scranton. General manager Brian Cashman might explore the trade market for solutions, although options are limited after Bryan Reynolds and Ian Happ signed long-term extensions with their respective teams.

This article proposes a potential trade for Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger, an above-average defender with a powerful left-handed bat that could thrive in Yankee Stadium.

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Yankees-Cubs mock trade:

Yankees receive: Cody Bellinger

Bellinger is an outstanding player when performing at his peak. Despite two underwhelming seasons, he has started the 2023 campaign with the Cubs by hitting .300 with a .380 OBP. He has a 14.1% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate, and 153 wRC+, with five home runs, 15 RBIs, and four stolen bases. As the Cubs are not expected to be highly competitive this year, the Yankees might be able to negotiate a trade for Bellinger.

Last summer, the Yankees traded Hayden Wesneski to Chicago for Scott Effross, who is anticipated to miss the entire 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Defensively, Bellinger can play all outfield positions and has nearly 2,000 innings of experience at first base. This year, he has primarily played in right field, maintaining a perfect fielding percentage.

The main obstacle in acquiring Bellinger is his contract: a one-year, $17.5 million deal with a 2024 mutual option. The Yankees would need Chicago to assume most of the contract, suggesting that Cashman may postpone the move until later in the season.

Cubs receive: Yoendrys Gomez RHP #10, Zach Messinger RHP #23, Chase Hampton RHP #25

In return, the Yankees would send Yoendrys Gomez, Zach Messinger, and Chase Hampton to the Cubs. Gomez, a 23-year-old pitcher, has a 3.86 ERA across 16.1 innings with Double-A Somerset this year. His promising arm could develop into a solid bullpen piece, but he requires a few more years of refinement.

Messinger is currently playing in High-A with Hudson Valley, posting a 2.20 ERA across 16.1 innings. The right-handed pitcher was a 13th-round pick in the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft and has shown improvement year after year, which could pique Chicago’s interest.

Hampton, another right-handed pitcher, was a sixth-round draft pick in the 2022 MLB June Amateur Draft. This season, he has recorded a 4.61 ERA over 13.2 innings with High-A Hudson Valley.

As demonstrated, the Yankees would unload some of their peripheral pitching prospects in this transaction, acquiring Bellinger for the remainder of the 2023 season, which includes a mutual option for the following year. The Yankees could effortlessly regain several young prospects by trading away some of their other players, making this a potentially equitable deal, considering the salary that accompanies Bellinger.