Yankees missed prime opportunity to land star outfielder

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Sep 13, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Bryan Reynolds (10) reacts after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have struggled to find consistency and stability in their outfield recently, particularly during the 2023 season.

With underperforming players and mounting injuries, the Yankees may now regret passing on Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds, who signed a team-friendly extension earlier this week. Here are a few reasons why the Yankees missed out big and are now stuck in a position with lackluster players earning everyday reps.

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May 2, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Michael King (34) has the ball tossed back to him after defeating the Cleveland Guardians 4-2 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

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May 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts to hitting a home run as he rounds the bases against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees’ Brian Cashman struck gold with one deadline trade

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May 16, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge (99) watches his ball go over the center field wall for a two run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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May 13, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) exits the game against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

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Strong Offensive Production

One of the most significant issues the Yankees’ outfield has faced in 2023 is their lack of offensive production. However, Bryan Reynolds has been a consistent force at the plate throughout his career. In 2021, Reynolds posted a slash line of .302/.390/.522, along with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs. By September 2021, his 6.2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranked him 20th among all position players in the league. In 2022, he continued to impress with a slash line of .262/.345/.461, hitting 27 home runs and driving in 62 runs.

Reynolds‘ strong offensive production has carried over into the 2023 season, with a batting average of .294, 5 home runs, and 18 RBIs through the end of April. His presence in the Yankees lineup would have resulted in a far more competent bunch, assisting through a current cold streak.

Defensive Prowess

Defensively, Reynolds has his limitations but has been solid in left field throughout his career. This season, he currently hosts a perfect fielding percentage across 144.1 innings, recording three defensive runs saved and one out above average. He struggled significantly in the past playing center field, but the Yankees wouldn’t have used him there anyway, considering they have Harrison Bader returning from injury.

Team Control and Financial Considerations

Reynolds was an attractive trade target not only for his on-field performance but also for his contract situation. Under team control through the 2025 season, Reynolds recently signed an eight-year, $106.75M extension, heavily team friendly, averaging just $13.3 million per season, an absolute steal for an above-average player with quality offensive production.

The Pirates wanted a haul in return, specifically a top pitching prospect or infield support, but the Yankees weren’t willing to budge. Brian Cashman sat pretty, hugging his prospects for dear life and not taking any risks with the team’s future. Now, he has no choice but to fully commit to his youth agenda, providing Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Oswaldo Cabrera with daily reps. This isn’t bad, but the Yankees recently traded some of their top pitching prospects for next to nothing, notably Ken Waldichuk, in exchange for Frankie Montas. We all know how that panned out.