Yankees have big decision to make on primary trade targets due to Covid vaccination

andrew benintendi, yankees
Jul 4, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) runs to first base on a single during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are crawling to the All-Star break with so many injuries popping up left and right. First, outfielder Aaron Hicks suffered a right shin bone contusion, and now Luis Severino is dealing with shoulder discomfort.

At some point, reality was going to strike the Bombers, who have been the ones doing most of the damage against opposing teams in the win column. They still sit 14 games up in the AL East despite a three-game losing streak they snapped in a walk-off wild pitch on Wednesday night in extra innings.

However, general manager Brian Cashman must know his team needs reinforcements at multiple positions. Notably in the outfield and starting rotation. With Hicks going down and Joey Gallo representing a below-average baseball player, the OF is in dire need of support, which brings us to an interesting crossroads.

The Yankees have an interesting decision to make:

Cashman could pursue Bryan Reynolds or Ian Happ, but the cheaper options include Andrew Benintendi and Michael Taylor from the Kansas City Royals. The problem is that neither are vaccinated.

According to Alec Lewis of The Athletic, Royals’ OF Andrew Benintendi isn’t vaccinated, which could cause a potential issue for the Yankees.

Royals players Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, Hunter Dozier, Cam Gallagher, MJ Melendez, Brady Singer, Brad Keller, Kyle Isbel, Michael A. Taylor and Dylan Coleman will be placed on the restricted list for the four-game series in Toronto, per manager Mike Matheny.

Clearly, being placed on the restricted list ahead of a series in Toronto indicates their vaccination status. The Yankees may have reservations about Benintendi and Taylor if they are unable to play a postseason series in Canada. Acquiring them may rely on their postseason availability.

There’s always the possibility that Cashman doesn’t care about their vaccination status and rolls with one of the two trade targets nonetheless. Benintendi would offer an immediate upgrade in the outfield, hitting .317 with a 38.6% on-base rate and .401 slugging percentage. He currently features a 127 wRC+, indicating he’s 27% better than the average major league player. He has hit just three homers this year after smashing 17 in 2021. As a left-handed batter in Yankee Stadium, he can take advantage of the short right porch and likely provide more efficiency than Joey Gallo.

Taylor, on the other hand, can help supplement fatigue in the outfield, keeping Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton fresh. The Royals OF is hitting .264 with a 34% on-base rate this season, including five homers and 24 RBIs. Taylor is a right-handed batter, so taking advantage of the short right porch would be a bit more difficult. However, he is a speedy base runner and can put himself in good scoring positions.

The vaccination variable is an interesting one for Yankee management, and it may play into their equation for acquiring a player at the deadline.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: