Yankees: Will they address their lack of left-handed hitters?

mikecalendrillo
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 15: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants hits an RBI double in the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 15, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 15: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants hits an RBI double in the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 15, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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With the departure of Didi Gregorius and the absence of Aaron Hicks until August, the only every day starting left-handed hitter for the Yankees is currently Brett Gardner.

George A. King of the NY Times recently spoke with Yankees vice president and assistant GM Michael Fishman, about the club’s very right-handed lineup.

"“Ultimately, we are trying to find the best players. If it can balance the lineup, even better. It’s good to balance the lineup with another lefty.’’"

With Brett Gardner back in the fold for at least one more season, and Mike Tauchman likely to act as the team’s fourth outfielder, the Yankees could be in the market for another reliable left-handed stick to break up their glut of right-handers.

However, the 40-man roster does house Mike Ford and Tyler Wade — though neither is a lock to break camp with the big league club. And no, I’m not counting top outfield prospect Estevan Florial as an option because he has shown no consistency to hit in the minors and is almost as injury prone as Greg Bird.

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Luckily, the Yanks’ batting order does consist of several guys that regularly drive the ball the other way, especially with power — namely D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Gleyber Torres, who does have power to all fields, still pulled the ball 44 percent of the time in 2019.

Naturally, the Yankees will need full, healthy seasons out two of its biggest run producers to counteract the lack of left-handed hitters, but it’s certainly possible.

King mentions a few free-agent first basemen that could satisfy the front office’s need for a lefty slugger, namely Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland.

He also states that the Orioles would love to move Chris Davis, but with $69 million owed over the next three seasons and the ferocity in which he regularly strikes out (526 times in the last three seasons alone), it’ll take a miracle for Baltimore to get out from under that contract.

However, Brandon Belt is an intriguing possibility — now that the Giants have officially lost their ace in Madison Bumgarner to the Diamondbacks (no one saw that one coming), which direction will they go?

"Some believe Brandon Belt would hit for more power if he escapes spacious Oracle Park in San Francisco, but he is owed $34.4 million across the next two seasons after hitting .234 with 17 homers, 57 RBIs and a .742 OPS this past year."

Not only would the Giants need to concede to a total rebuild, but they’d also have to eat at least half of Belt’s contract for the Yankees to be genuinely interested — you know, since the club is currently $40 million over the luxury tax.

A swap of J.A. Happ’s $17 million contract could be in the cards; however, the Yanks would like to erase that deal (if possible), which could require the addition of prospects in any such trade.

The final piece to the puzzle — and perhaps the most important, is that the organization would need to seriously consider if Belt, 31, is an upgrade over Luke Voit or Mike Ford. While you want power at the corners, it’s also vital to be defensively sound there as well.

Voit and Ford are still growing into their defensive abilities while Belt is an excellent first baseman, who made just six errors in 1122 chances last season (1155.1 innings).

His overall career numbers at first base are outstanding: .994 fielding percentage (45th all-time among first basemen, 47 Total Zone Runs (19th), 9.9 Range Factor per 9.19 IN (fifth among active 1B, 649 assists (8th) and 48 errors (9th).

Next. Tyler Wade could be Yanks' super utility player. dark

While it’s true that Belt’s batting average has fluctuated since his lone All-Star season in 2016, he still boasts a career .354 OBP and has averaged 17 homers and 71 RBIs during his nine seasons with the Giants.

As a side note, The Athletic reports the Yankees and Cubs have recently had dialogue about a deal involving Kyle Schwarber. However, Schwarber is a far worse outfielder than Giancarlo Stanton ever was, and while Schwarber would quench the need for a left-handed bat, he’d likely DH, forcing Stanton to left field full-time.

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