The Yankees have underperformed all season and, to make matters worse, have looked dreadful at times while doing it. A certain segment of their fans are frustrated, raging over the lack of Steinbrenner-ian dictums cannon-shot from the owner’s box and boiling whenever Aaron Boone stands behind his players on nights of failure.
Still, the Yankees remain in contention for an AL Wild Card spot. And they declared themselves trade deadline buyers Wednesday, when they struck a deal to acquire lefty slugger Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers for prospects.
Bravo. And don’t stop there.
It’s nonsense to think that a team with Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, D.J. LeMahieu and other terrific pieces should punt on a season just because they aren’t skating to an AL East title by now. The Yankees obviously still believe.
Have they excelled? Heck, no. But there’s still a path to a meaningful October via the Wild Card -- one the Yankee should explore.
Gallo and his massive power stroke is a good place to start. The 27-year-old entered Wednesday with 25 home runs, tied for sixth in MLB. He leads MLB with 74 walks and a 19.1 percent walk rate and was tied for 17th in on-base percentage (.379). All of those totals are better than those of anyone on the Yanks’ roster.
The last two times Gallo had at least 500 at-bats in a season, he blasted at least 40 homers.
Yes, there are flaws -- Gallo strikes out a lot (125 K's put him third in MLB) and his average (.223) is low. Maybe a player with a different offensive profile would better complement a slugger-stuffed lineup.
But the Yankees are only averaging 4.16 runs per game, 24th in the MLB. (The MLB average is 4.48 runs per game). Their offense needs help, even if it comes in a familiar, tall package.
Gallo is also a superlative, athletic defensive outfielder who won a Gold Glove last season. He’s versatile enough to have played all three outfield positions, first base and third base in his career.
Perhaps the most important thing is this -- Gallo will bring a scary lefty presence to a team that, let’s face it, has none -- a shocking front office oversight considering the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and the organization’s history of lefty brawn.
The Yanks have been mostly a lefty null set this season. Their left-handed hitters entered Wednesday last in batting average (.197), 28th in homers (22), slugging (.338) and OPS (.635) and 27th in on-base (.297).
Gallo even has a .904 OPS success with runners in scoring position. As a team, the Yanks have a .646 OPS with RISP.
Says an opposing scout: “Plus power, low average. Bat should play well at Yankee Stadium.”
Gallo is no rental, either. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season.
There will be hand-wringing over the package of prospects sent to Texas in the deal, which will include the Yanks also getting MLB reliever Joely Rodriguez. Swapping prospects is sometimes the price of contention. Now that we have all the benefit of wonderful work by media outlets who track prospects and their growth, we seem to feel a much greater attachment to them. But you can’t keep them all. Aren’t prospects a means to fuel the big-league team, whether by donning the uniform when ready or being traded to fill holes?
And these Yankees have holes. That bit about not stopping with Gallo? We mean it. This winter, there is a massive class of super shortstops hitting free agency. The Yankees should jump the market and make a deal for someone such as Trevor Story and then try to sign him long-term.
Better yet, if the Nationals really are making Trea Turner available, try to get him. Turner, a perpetual-motion threat who leads the NL in total bases and won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season, is unlike anyone currently on the Yanks roster and could offer a myriad of additional ways to generate runs.
Either move would let the Yankees move Gleyber Torres back to second base, where he’s a better fit defensively. Bet there’d be an uptick in Torres’ offense (.675 OPS), which mostly has been a disappointment this year.
The same can be said for the Yankees attack overall. Adding Gallo and a big-time shortstop would address an area of season-long angst. Despite injuries and bullpen drama, the Yanks have generally pitched well, sitting at 11th overall in ERA (3.78) and eighth in FIP (3.82), according to FanGraphs.
Perhaps those upgrades jolt the Yanks into a Wild Card spot, changing the tenor of their season. Facing Cole in a one-game Wild Card contest is a difficult assignment for any club.
Who knows what could happen beyond that if the offense is fixed?