The New York Yankees are still waiting patiently to solve their vacant left field position. With Michael Conforto signing a two-year deal with the San Francisco Giants, all of the top free agents are off the board, leaving the trade market as the prime suspect for general manager Brian Cashman.
Max Kepler of the Minnesota Twins and Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates stand out as the primary two options, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have also bubbled to the surface as a potential trade partner. The Yankees have reached out to Arizona regarding their outfielders, notably Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas.
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Diamondbacks want a right-handed infielder in exchange for a lefty outfield bat.
And finally, the Diamondbacks are seeking a right-handed hitting infielder in trade discussions involving their left-handed hitting center fielders.
The Yankees have the trade capital to make a deal happen:
The Yankees have a player that fits what the Diamondbacks are looking for perfectly in Gleyber Torres, but he has more value than some of the outfielders Arizona is trying to part ways with.
- Yankees still have a big starting pitching decision to figure out
- Yankees can still land top remaining free-agent left-fielder if asking price comes down
- Yankees settle with Gleyber Torres on one-year deal, avoiding arbitration
McCarthy, 25, is a left-handed hitter coming off his rookie season with Arizona in 2022. He hit .283 with a 34.2% on-base rate, eight homers, and 43 RBIs. He struck out at 21.5%, earning a 6.5% walk rate, but his 87.4 average exit velocity suggests there may be some hidden power to his game. He earned a 33.3% hard-hit rate and a 4.8% barrel rate this past season, and with control until 2029, the Yankees can lock him in for a very long time as a starter.
In fact, Mccarthy ranks in the 98th percentile in sprint speed and sprays the ball exceptionally well around the field. He is certainly a contact hitter that might be able to extrapolate on the short right porch in Yankee Stadium. However, he could be a defensive liability, given he ranks in the 17th percentile in outfielder jump and 28th percentile in arm strength. He played 242.2 innings this past season in left field for the Diamondbacks, recording a perfect fielding percentage with -1 defensive runs saved above average.
The Bombers are likely looking for a slugger that can hit double-digit homers in left field next season, so Mccarthy likely isn’t the perfect fit unless they want a speedster that will get on base and open up opportunities for other power bats in the lineup. Andrew Benintendi was an exception since he can hit double-digit homers, but McCarthy has too many weaknesses to guarantee as a starter — the Yanks are better off starting Oswaldo Cabrera.
Alternatively, they could look at the direction of Alek Thomas, a 22-year-old going into his sophomore season. Unfortunately, he was atrocious in 2022, playing 113 games and hitting .231 with a 27.5% on-base rate. He posted a 71 wRC+, but he could bounce back after posting much more productive numbers in Triple-A.
Thomas is another contact-hitting specialist that won’t smack a ton of long balls at the MLB level. Defensively, he played 907.1 innings in center field for the Diamondbacks, posting a .991 fielding percentage with six defensive runs saved and six outs above average.
Neither McCarthy nor Thomas fit the mold for what Cashman is looking for, so I would expect him to pursue Kepler more aggressively since he has untapped power, having hit 36 homers back in 2019. He may only get on base at a 32% clip, but he is a stellar defensive player and ranks well in the power department.