Wait, so are the Yankees…going after Michael Brantley? For real?
If you’re building a Yankees team from scratch — zero rostered members, no strengths, no weaknesses — Michael Brantley in the outfield would be a pretty great place to start.
Power/contact blend, consistent defense. Basically a left-field version of DJ LeMahieu. Would’ve fit in seamlessly on the late-90s dynasty teams.
Alas, we play ball in the real world, though, with only $20 million left to be spent after the LeMahieu contract becomes official. We’ve clamored for it (echoing our prescient claims from two years ago), but it just didn’t seem possible. The Yankees should’ve stopped Houston from adding Brantley and the Rays from adding Charlie Morton two years ago, but they failed. Move on.
But…apparently, this is a more realistic line of thinking than we’d previously considered. In the wake of LeMahieu’s signing, MLB Network’s Matt Vasgersian immediately pivoted to connecting the Yankees and Brantley. Wishful thinking on his part? Uninformed speculation? Budget-out-the-window type stuff?
What’s really going on here?
From a base level, if the Yankees are considering a pursuit of Brantley, they’d be packaging Clint Frazier elsewhere, and quickly.
This team wants — nay, needs — high-level pitching, and there only seem to be two players even tangentially on the market who might be worth Frazier’s services: Luis Castillo and Kyle Hendricks.
Jon Heyman noted on Friday that the Yankees have spoken to the Reds about Castillo, who’d be a game-changing No. 2 in any rotation, but that the talks have only been cursory in nature. Frazier would be the firestarter there, but he wouldn’t be the whole pot. Hendricks? We haven’t heard any buzz there whatsoever.
But beyond those two, Frazier isn’t worth dangling — Joe Musgrove very much ain’t it.
Brantley is a patient power bat who’d be the most seamless fit in Yankees history, especially with the current guiding mantra of a roster built around LeMahieu’s skill set. But in order to get it done, the Yanks are going to have to find a viable use for Frazier, and they can’t simply give him away.
Brantley, also, is 33. He’s a win-now addition in a calendar year full of them — when you have Gerrit Cole and he’s only 30, you try to win the World Series now instead of hoping you might be able to finagle one when he’s 34.
Dr. Smooth would help that cause more in 2021 than Frazier would, especially if The Masked Man’s final act as a Yankee would be bringing in rotation-shifting starting pitching.
Outside of Castillo — and possibly Hendricks — it isn’t on the market, though. So we’re left right back near square one, wondering where exactly Matt Vasgersian conjured this rumor.