Yankees could find exceptional value in newly acquired outfielder

mlb: cleveland guardians at toronto blue jays, oscar gonzalez, yankees
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

While the New York Yankees are hyper-focused on acquiring Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres, an under-the-radar move they made this past week was acquiring Oscar Gonzalez from the Cleveland Guardians via waivers.

Gonzalez is an interesting player at just 25 years old. Standing at 6’4″ and 240 pounds, Gonzalez has the size and power to offer solid value as a depth piece, especially since he had a fantastic 2022 season that suggested a bright future.

The Yankees Could Help Oscar Gonazlez Return to Form

Over 91 games, Gonzalez hit .296 with a .327 OBP and a .461 slugging rate, including 11 home runs, 43 RBIs, and a 125 wRC+. He’s not the best defensive player out there by any means, but he has an adequate bat that took a step in the wrong direction this past season.

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However, his 40.6% hard-hit rate, 7.8% barrel rate, and 88.5 average exit velocity in 2023 suggest that he could get back into the positive column. Over 54 games, he hit .214, with a .239 OBP, well below his quality metrics from the year prior.

He spent 83 games with Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, hitting .287 with a .323 OBP, including 13 homers and 64 RBIs. He was decent, but it was clear that something was off, opening the door for the Yankees to turn things around potentially.

Sometimes, a fresh start is precisely what a player needs to get back on track, and the Yankees have a different strategy with their hitters. They focus on power and sacrifice strikeout rates for home runs and extra-base production — however, things could change with James Rowsen taking over as the team’s hitting coach.

Gonzalez could be a good fit for that mold. After all, the Yankees are desperately looking for more depth, and Gonzalez will be able to compete for a roster spot during spring training. At the end of the day, he is at the same level as Estevan Florial right now, both 25 years old and looking to work their way into the outfield equation.