Yankees ‘increasingly likely’ to reinforce 2 positions at the trade deadline

Jun 6, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) reacts after being hit by a foul ball during the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As the trade deadline approaches at the end of July, the New York Yankees are poised to be proactive. With a roster that is already deemed capable of clinching a World Series title, strategically adding key players could distinguish them from their fierce competitors and elevate their chances of triumph.

Yankees’ Trade Deadline Strategy: Aggressive Moves Ahead

The Yankees, also known as the Bombers, recognize that they must surpass the Baltimore Orioles in the American League to reach the World Series. Therefore, they are gearing up to enhance their lineup with the necessary talent to meet this challenge head-on.

Rethinking the Infield Configuration

According to reports from The Athletic, the Yankees are expected to explore potential acquisitions for both first and third base positions. Currently, Anthony Rizzo is handling first base duties, and DJ LeMahieu is stationed primarily at third base. However, both players are struggling to deliver offensively this season.

Rizzo has appeared in 66 games, posting a batting average of .221, an on-base percentage of .279, and a slugging percentage of .332. He has hit seven home runs and driven in 26 RBIs. His weighted runs created plus (wRC+) stands at 78, indicating he is performing 22% below the average MLB hitter.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees, anthony rizzo
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

“There’s no question over the last two, three weeks especially, it’s been a little bit of a struggle,” Boone said Sunday. “When you’re going through it and making little adjustments, they don’t always take right away. You go out there and — ‘Oh, that adjustment didn’t take right away.’ Maybe you revert back to something different.

With career lows in slugging metrics such as a 33.5% hard-hit rate and a 4.3% barrel rate and his diminishing performance with runners in scoring positions, Rizzo’s current form raises concerns for the Yankees, especially with the playoffs looming in a few months. Although there is a chance for improvement, the underlying metrics suggest a substantial regression rather than a return to his peak form.

On the other hand, LeMahieu has been battling inconsistency after returning from a right foot injury. The 35-year-old’s stats are underwhelming, with a batting average of .205, an on-base percentage of .326, and a slugging percentage of .205, including only one RBI and a 69 wRC+. While the Yankees are willing to give LeMahieu ample time to regain his form, there is little optimism for a significant offensive rebound to his 2022 performance levels. However, he remains a valuable defensive asset.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals
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With LeMahieu envisioned as a primary utility player, the Yankees might consider replacing him at third base. Although Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies has been mentioned as an ideal candidate, his availability remains uncertain given the Rockies’ reluctance to engage in trades despite their poor season performance.

Expanding the Search for Talent

The search for high-caliber infielders is expected to be challenging, given the scarcity of available talent that matches championship aspirations. Nevertheless, the Yankees plan to extend their search widely, targeting lower-tier teams that might be persuaded to part with quality players in exchange for prospects.

While securing top-tier talent is easier said than done, General Manager Brian Cashman is set on making aggressive roster upgrades. This season represents possibly the best opportunity in recent years for the Yankees to reach the World Series, underscoring the urgency of their trade deadline activities.

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