Yankees could snag Cardinals star utility man to boost offense

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins, brendan donovan, yankees
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

There exists a possible path for the New York Yankees to salvage their season, albeit at a cost: parting with several prospects to bolster their offensive capabilities. The primary objectives include resolving significant outfield gaps and securing a solid lead-off man to pave the way for the imminent return of Aaron Judge.

The Bombers have been linked with potent outfielders like Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs and Dylan Carlson of the St. Louis Cardinals. However, another intriguing option could be Brendan Donovan, the St. Louis Cardinals’ lead-off man and star utility player.

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Brendan Donovan: A Mid-Season Miracle?

Brendan Donovan, at 26 years old, is delivering an outstanding season. His addition to the Yankees would inject a much-needed dose of youth and impressive offensive skills into a batting lineup craving support.

Despite the Cardinals’ likely desire to retain him, their need for a stronger pitching rotation and bullpen depth may force them to part ways with Donovan. His current season statistics are impressive, boasting a .284 batting average, .370 OBP, 11 homers, 34 RBIs, a 15% strikeout rate, and a 9.4% walk rate. With a 124 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR, and team control until 2029, Donovan is an attractive prospect for the Yankees.

Cardinals beat writer Katie Woo suggested that Donovan could be on the trade block, with the Yankees a fitting suitor.

“That leaves Brendan Donovan, who won a Gold Glove last year as a utility player, but has seen ample time playing both left and right field for St. Louis this season. He’s certainly a player the Cardinals would prefer to keep, but they might not have a choice.”

Trade Assets: Pitching Prospects on the Line

In a potential deal for Donovan, the Yankees might need to sacrifice some of their top pitching prospects, including Clarke Schmidt and Will Warren.

Schmidt, at 27, has posted a 4.31 ERA this year, with 9.10 strikeouts per nine innings, a 71.8% left-on base rate, and a 43.4% ground ball rate across 94 innings. Given Schmidt’s recent form and untapped potential, the Cardinals could insist on his inclusion in any trade discussions.

Warren, a 24-year-old who currently has a 4.74 ERA across 38 innings after being promoted to AAA, has rapidly risen through the Yankees’ minor-league system. He posted a 2.45 ERA in AA with Somerset before his recent promotion, which could make him an attractive prospect for the Cardinals.

Securing Donovan could mean exhausting the Yankees’ top pitching prospects, but they have other promising young pitchers, such as Clayton Beeter, Randy Vasquez, and Jhony Brito, who may fill these gaps.

The Potential Payoff: A New Era for the Yankees

Despite the cost, acquiring Donovan could prove to be a worthwhile investment given his youth, consistent performance, and upside. As a lead-off man this year, he’s hit .303 with a .365 OBP and .849 OPS, along with eight home runs. His addition would address a significant problem for the Yankees and provide Judge with a potent on-base threat. This strategy could significantly enhance the top half of the order, relieving the bottom half that has been under pressure due to lackluster production.

Should General Manager Brian Cashman succeed in acquiring Donovan, in addition to a player like Cody Bellinger, the Yankees might yet salvage their season. This ambitious endeavor would, however, demand substantial resources.