The Yankees made a significant splash with starting pitcher Carlos Rodon, signing him to a six-year, $162 million deal. However, they are still looking to plug the vacant left field spot. The Yankees currently have Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera, who could play the position if need be, but they would prefer a more consistent offensive threat. That player won’t be Andrew Benintendi.
Benintendi signed a five-year contract with the Chicago White Sox on Friday afternoon, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN. Clearly, he elected to chase more money on the open market rather than compete for a World Series in 2023 with the Bombers. With Benintendi off the board, the Yankees now turn their attention to the remaining free agents, including Michael Conforto and Michael Brantley.
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The Yankees still have options, but they need to act fast:
Conforto didn’t play during the 2022 season, last featuring with the Mets in 2021. He hit .232 with a 34.4% on-base rate, including 14 homers and 55 RBIs. With juiced baseballs in 2019, he slapped 33 homers with 92 RBIs and seven stolen bases. Conforto has collected 19.3 WAR over the course of his career, hitting a career average of .255 with a 36% on-base rate and 124 wRC+.
Depending on his price tag, Conforto could be a great option for the Yankees moving forward at just 29 years old. Alternatively, Brantley is also available at 35 years old. The veteran outfielder isn’t the best defender at this point in time, given his lack of athleticism, but he’s a quality offensive weapon.
Over 64 games with the Houston Astros this past season, Brantley hit .288 with a 37% on-base rate, five homers, and 26 RBIs. He’s not going to smash long balls often, but he will get on base consistently and features fantastic contact metrics.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees went with Brantley and paired him with Oswaldo Cabrera in left field to mitigate fatigue and injury. Don’t forget about Giancarlo Stanton — operating in LF with a few different players could work. Nonetheless, if Conforto can be the Yankees’ everyday left fielder, he would likely get the nod if they offer him a reasonable deal.