Yankees Trade Ideas: Acquiring a contact-hitter from the Nationals

lane thomas, yankees
Jun 19, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Lane Thomas (28) doubles against the St. Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A compelling argument exists suggesting that the New York Yankees might be better off as sellers rather than buyers at this year’s trade deadline.

Assessing the Yankees’ Health Status

The ability of the team to push towards a World Series is heavily reliant on their health. Considering their recent track record with injuries, this is a considerable challenge.

Navigating a Thin Deadline

The deadline, anticipated to be slim in a few weeks, may force the Yankees to settle for lesser-known talents. The objective would be to gain substantial value without offering too much in return.

However, this easier-said-than-done approach demands that the Yankees refrain from giving up top prospects to obtain above-average talent, which could complicate efforts to enhance the roster midway through the season.

Lane Thomas: A Potential Option for the Yankees

One possible target is Washington Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas. At 27 years old, Thomas is enjoying a solid season. One of his standout features is his health, having played 146 games last season and 70 in the current one. He boasts a .290 batting average with a .341 OBP, has hit 11 home runs, and has 35 RBIs with seven stolen bases.

Thomas’ statistics could be even more impressive if his walk rate wasn’t just 6%. He strikes out at a 25.4% rate, but also enjoys a .493 slugging rate and a 124 wRC+.

The Yankees would theoretically have Thomas under contract until 2026 since he’s only arbitration-eligible in 2024. As a cheap role-player with starting upside, this move would make plenty of sense.

Evaluating Thomas’ Performance

As an offensive player, Thomas not only shows excellent contact, but he’s also on pace to set a PR in home runs. He currently has a 40.3% hard-hit rate, a 9% barrel rate, an average exit velocity of 88.4, and a launch angle of 10.9°.

Thomas is elite against left-handed pitching, posting a .356 BA with a .408 OBP. Against righties, he’s hitting .258 with a .308 OBP, so there’s a sizable difference. Platooning him with Jake Bauers could be a consideration since Bauers dominates right-handed pitchers.

Despite being a defensive liability, Thomas’s offensive qualities would be a welcome addition to the Yankees’ lineup. However, his .988 fielding percentage across 606.1 innings, -4 defensive runs saved, and -4 outs above average indicate that his defensive prowess is below average.

The Trade-off for Thomas

A question remains: What would the Yankees have to offer in return for the young outfielder?

Using a trade simulator, Thomas is valued at 4.40. General Manager Brian Cashman could potentially exchange a few minor-league prospects to bolster Washington’s farm system, which is currently a top priority for them.

A trade involving an outfielder like Elijah Dunham and Edgar Barclay could be enough to secure Thomas. With Thomas having one of his best professional seasons, the Nationals might be interested in capitalizing on his high value to aid their rebuilding process.

The Nationals, currently in last place in the NL East, are likely to be sellers at the deadline in a few weeks.

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