Yankees outfield trade targets from pipe dream superstars to realistic quality upgrades

Daniel Cunningham
juan soto, yankees, washington nationals

The New York Yankees are already putting feelers out there to see what is available in the outfield market. Now that we are in July, the hot stove is really going to start heating up as the trade deadline approaches.

The Yankees are expected to be buyers at the deadline. Baseball’s best team is seeing their best chance to win a World Series in a very long time. The early word is that Brian Cashman is going to try and sure up any loose ends they have to put the best team on the field in October.

One massive loose end that the team has is in the outfield. Aaron Judge has been arguably the best player in baseball in 2022 and Giancarlo Stanton has had a very good year. However, Judge is just one man and Stanton spends the majority of his time as the DH.

The other outfielders the Yankees have are Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo. New York has seen very little production from either man this year. Hicks had a huge moment against the Astros in his game-tying three run bomb, but that doesn’t take away from his poor play all season long.

Hicks is batting in the low 200s with a slugging percentage under 300. Now, he is walking at a decent clip which has led to an OBP of .338, but still, it’s not the production that the Yankees have been wanting.

The Biggest Yankee Issue

While Hicks has been bad, he isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it is the black hole in the lineup known as Joey Gallo. Gallo was one of the Yankees big time acquisitions at the deadline last year when New York got him from Texas.

However, he’s been abysmal the entire time he’s been with the team. This year, Gallo is having the worst year of his career and the boos are getting louder and louder. You cannot have worse at-bats than Joey Gallo at this point. The man is batting .165 with an OBP of .277.

Gallo has always been known for his trademark power yet in his tenure with the Yankees, he’s only hit 22 home runs in 118 games. This year, he’s on 162-game pace for 23 home runs and 45 RBIs. That is absolutely not the guy the Yankees thought they’d be getting.

At this point, I’m convinced that Gallo is a lost cause and the early word is that New York is ready to pull the plug. However they do it, I don’t think Joey Gallo is going to be on the team when they take the field in the playoffs.

Trade Targets

Brian Cashman is already gauging which outfielders are going to be available as the deadline approaches. There are two separate tiers for the guys that the Yankees are going to be looking at. There’s the pipe dream superstars that are unlikely and there’s also a couple of players who could very well end up in New York.

Pipe Dream Stars

Juan Soto

The first pipe dream star that New York would love to add is Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals. I mean who wouldn’t want Juan Soto on their team? Soto isn’t having the best year for The Nationals, but I like most are not putting a ton of stock into it.

The 23-year-old superstar is batting just .226 with 15 homers and 33 RBIs. However, he’s still one of the best at-bats in the game and he has an OBP of .384. His lefty swing would play perfectly for the Yankees at the stadium.

Soto would do a lot for New York. In addition to bringing his unworldly talent to the Bronx, he would also buy the Yankees a little bit of insurance. New York has a big negotiation coming up after the season with Aaron Judge.

If New York was to acquire Juan Soto, it would protect them in the event that Judge finds a super contract from another team. Of course, the dream would be to pair the two of them together long-term, but if the Yankees do lose Aaron Judge, Juan Soto is as good as it gets as a replacement.

Washington has continued to try and extend him for record dollars, but Soto has remained firm in saying no. The Nationals have made it clear that they don’t intend to trade, but his value will never be higher and if he continues to make it clear that he’s not signing long-term, perhaps he becomes available.

Bryan Reynolds

Want a guy that checks all the Yankees boxes? Look no further than Pittsburg’s Bryan Reynolds. The switch hitting Reynolds is an MVP type of talent that will give you quality at-bats, hit for average, and play wherever you need him to in the outfield. New York is witnessing that in this series.

Reynolds, like Soto, is playing for an abysmal team that would like to extend him long-term. However, Reynolds has shown no interest in signing with the Pirates long-term to this point just like Soto hasn’t with the Nationals.

Despite this, the 14-games under 500 Pirates have signaled that they don’t plan on trading Reynolds. They think they can compete sooner than later with their young core of players coming of age. However, would they be better off holding onto Reynolds or adding even more young talent/

It would take a haul from the Yankees, but Brian Cashman would pull the trigger here if the deal could happen. Unfortunately like with Soto, I just don’t see it happening.

Realistic Targets

Andrew Benintendi

Likely the Yankees top target at the trade deadline for outfield help is Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi is someone that New York is extremely familiar with after all of his years with The Red Sox.

The Royals outfielder is having a tremendous season during his walk year. Benintendi is scheduled to be a free agent after the season and he’s doing the exact opposite as Joey Gallo is doing at the moment.

Benintendi is playing tremendous defense and he’s batting .313 with an OBP of .381. He plays in a pitchers ballpark and with his swing, you can imagine his power numbers would increase in the second half. Benintendi has only hit three homers thus far.

However, he would give the Yankees what they need and that’s someone who will consistently put the bat on the ball. He would maintain balance from the left side and he wouldn’t be a downgrade defensively outside of his throwing arm.

There’s going to be plenty of competition as Benintendi is going to be a hot commodity. The Royals will wait for the best deal and New York might not pull the trigger if the costs get too high from a prospect standpoint.

Ian Happ

The Yankees and The Cubs have done plenty of trades together in the past. Hell, last year they just made a deal at the deadline for Anthony Rizzo. One of Rizzo’s closest friends and former teammates could find his way to The Bronx as well at this year’s deadline.

Ian Happ is having a very strong year and will come with one additional year of control. That additional year would increase the cost, but perhaps if the deal is right, the Yankees could see it as a big positive.

Happ is batting .283 while having an OBP of .382. He’s hit eight homers and drove home 38 runs. Happ will also remind fans of DJ LeMahieu and Marwin Gonzalez with his ability to play all over the field.

This year, he’s been exclusively in the outfield, however, throughout his career he’s played all infield positions outside of shortstop and catcher. He’s a switch hitter so like Benintendi, he wouldn’t hurt the balance of the lineup.

If Happ is available, I expect the Yankees to be deep in the discussions. Before Jose Trevino started having an All Star caliber season, I once pondered if the Yanks would do a huge trade getting Willson Contreras and Happ. However, the focus is going to be Happ if a deal with Chicago materializes.