The 2023 New York Yankees were built without a left fielder, in hopes that either $10 million man Aaron Hicks or converted infielder Oswaldo Cabrera would take the spot and run with it.
So far, no dice. Cabrera, a spark plug and excitable boy, hasn’t brought the lumber he displayed in 2022 to the 2023 season. Hicks, who once upon a time was a Gold Glove center fielder, has lost a step and closed his eyes, not to mention his anemic bat.
Add in injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge (hip … something), and the issue just compounds. The Yankees need to promote someone immediately to absorb some reps, but when the trade deadline comes, they’ll need to make a high-profile addition akin to last year’s Andrew Benintendi import.
Yup. You read that right. The Yankees addressed a deficiency at last year’s deadline. They entered the offseason with the same deficiency. They entered the regular season with the same deficiency. Then they got worse. Probably not an issue.
Thanks to Bryan Reynolds and Ian Happ both extending in the NL Central, there are also fewer midseason trade options than ever. On the flip side, that means it won’t be “blockbuster season” for the Yankees; there are several candidates to fill the role who won’t cost a fortune.
Which way would you prefer? Obvious or under-the-radar? Whatever you do, don’t beef it.
3 Yankees trade deadline options for left field void
Obvious Yankees Trade Deadline Candidate: Joc Pederson
You’re going to hear a ton about Joc Pederson this season. He slugs. He mashes. He does it in the playoffs. He’s been a fun Yankees free agency target and deadline candidate (that has never materialized) several times over.
Now, he’s playing out an expensive one-year deal for a floundering San Francisco team, and can probably be had this July for a pro-rated amount of his hefty $19.65 million qualifying offer.
Pederson turned himself into an even more ideal Yankee by ending up on the shelf early in the season with a wrist issue, but he’s already hummed along with a .256 average and .365 OBP, good for a 132 OPS+.
Most importantly (for some Yankee fans), a Pederson acquisition would mean an all-time postseason-tested bat making his way to the Bronx. Adding a player who has an .814 career playoff OPS with 12 homers in 79 games could do for the Yankees what Kyle Schwarber did for Boston in 2021 (but with an obvious positional fit this time).
Take Pederson from the remarkably spacious Oracle Park, where the right-field seats are waterlogged, and place him at Yankee Stadium? Yeah. There’s a reason this is an obvious target.
Sneaky Yankees Trade Deadline Candidate: Hunter Renfroe
No player with Hunter Renfroe’s skill set has ever played for more teams in this short a span of time, but … if he’s dealt at the deadline, that will mark six different clubs since 2019 (Padres, Rays, Red Sox, Brewers, Angels).
Renfroe’s availability depends entirely on the Angels’ performance, in what might be the most important year in franchise history. If they contend, they’ll be giving themselves at least a chance to retain Shohei Ohtani, the singular man who has changed modern baseball. If they’re in it at the deadline, they’ll need to buy harder than they’ve ever bought before to maximize that window.
And if they’re out of it? Everything must go. That’s why we’ve also got our eyes on Taylor Ward in left, who’s controllable through 2026 and won’t be traded unless the Angels hit the reset button hard.
If things begin to spiral, even an Ohtani trade could be on the table, making a Renfroe deal the least of the Angels’ worries. He’s on a one-year deal. He has a sterling defensive reputation with an all-time hose for an arm. He’s already accrued 1.0 WAR this season. He has light-tower power, and tormented the Yankees during his season in Boston.
It’s strange he continues to bounce around, considering he’s a modern baseball dream: grip it, rip it, catch it, hose it. It’d be nice if he hit from the left side, but if the Angels are in sell mode, beggars can’t be choosers.
Yankees Trade Deadline Candidate to Avoid: Jorge Soler
This one is real boom or bust, and entirely depends upon which version of Jorge Soler you receive.
If you surrender assets to Miami, are you getting the Soler who accessed the train tracks in Houston with a tone-setting Game 6 home run in the 2022 World Series that might still be flying? Or are you getting the former top prospect with prodigious power who bounced from the Cubs to the Royals and didn’t find his footing until the age of 27?
Never forget that Soler broke out with the 2019 Royals, hitting a ridiculous league-leading 48 home runs (while striking out 178 times, also a league-leading figure). By 2021, he was mostly cooked, hitting .192 with 13 first-half dingers … before he went to Atlanta and wreaked havoc (.882 second-half OPS/World Series freaking MVP). Last year? .695 OPS in Miami. This year? Back in the .800s. You want to ride the roller coaster with someone who still doesn’t solve the Yankees’ handedness problem? Be our guest. It’s tough to turn down someone with skills this tantalizing. But he’d be adding more mystery than certainty.
The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner is 100% correct on this; the Yankees and Marlins do often link up, for trades that both materialize and fizzle (glad Gleyber Torres is still here). Soler would represent a possible midseason spark, and he does the things the Yankees have traditionally prized very well.
If you’re looking to take another chance, Soler could pay off. But if you’re looking to provide consistency at an affordable price, Soler is probably not your guy.