The New York Yankees entered 2021 with a decidedly righty-heavy lineup that was set to play 81 games in a stadium that favored lefties.
This was suspect at the time, and remains confusing now. It’s like if the Red Sox built a pitching staff that exclusively surrendered high, arcing fly balls to left field.
You’re not going to believe this, but the issue has only further developed over the course of the season’s first month and a half.
Aaron Hicks, a switch-hitter, has been far superior from the right side of the plate, leading to calls for him to abandon his lefty at-bats, depriving the Yankees of one of the very few short-porch targeters they planned to employ this year. That leaves Brett Gardner (a black hole), Mike Ford (a fill-in), Rougned Odor (injured) and Jay Bruce (left baseball) as the team’s primary lefty options throughout the year.
Oof. Surely, there must be some sort of solution here.
The Yankees need flexible infield/outfield help in the worst way; New York is currently stuck tied with Cleveland for the worst outfield production in MLB, and that’s a franchise that historically targets the absolute wrong outfielders constantly. It’s like a special skill.
Though we’re only a month and change into the season, we’ve already seen exactly what the Yankees can be — a surging team with the pitching firepower to compete for a World Series, marked by an inconsistent offense. The bats will pick up at some point collectively, sure, but the team should still do everything in its power to make certain that’ll happen.
These three lefty bats are on middling-to-bad teams and could be available either cheaply, or if Hal Steinbrenner holds his nose and passes the luxury tax like he so desperately should. For the purposes of this exercise, we occasionally ignore that pesky tax.
These 3 lefty bats would be perfect Yankees trade deadline targets.
3. Charlie Blackmon
Cost aside, it’s kind of weird we haven’t heard any Charlie Blackmon speculation yet, especially considering the Yankees are linked to Trevor Story daily despite already having someone playing his position.
Blackmon has only 2021 left on the four-year deal he signed prior to the 2018 season, though he has player options for 2022 and ’23 that could come into play. The 34-year-old still has more than enough in his bat to help someone, and certainly gives off the vibe of a former All-Star player who’s poised to float into a 100-game fourth outfielder role for some very good teams for the next three to four years.
And yes, I’m thinking what you’re thinking. If the Yankees don’t act, the Red Sox very well might. After all, he wouldn’t have to clean up at all in Boston.
The thought of a beardless Blackmon feels entirely wrong, but it wouldn’t be any stranger than Odor taking a buzzer to his chin, and though the high-OBP bat has scuffled in 2021 (78 OPS+ overall), he’s got stark splits, posting a 115 OPS+ against righties and a .167 mark against southpaws.
In other words…Clint Frazier, think you can master lefties?
We’re expecting a massive sell-off in Colorado in a few months, and even the new man in charge can’t seem to deny that he’s going to be looking to cut bait with anything and everything. Perhaps the Yankees can attach Blackmon to the heels of a bigger deal for pitching reinforcements, a la Jon Gray or German Marquez? Maybe Gary Sanchez goes the other way if his platoon struggles continue?
Much to think about, but we’d listen on Blackmon at the back end of any trade with the Rockies.