Andrew Benintendi, a dream candidate for many and someone our friends over at Kings of Kaufman wrote about in anticipation of this series, is out with a fractured rib and will miss the action.
Was Benny a longshot, considering KC had only recently acquired him? Yes, absolutely. Was he also a perfect fit in the Bronx and an excellent way to potentially derail the 2021 Red Sox season? Y-E-S.
Benintendi’s not the only solid fit to be out of action this week, though, as Mike Minor, fresh off shutting down Boston’s offense Sunday, won’t get a shot in this three-game set. Danny Duffy, coming off a forearm strain but feeling better, may or may not be an option to start one of the three games, too.
So is there still a potential fit here for a Yankees team that seems closer to contention this week than last? Weird season. Kind of turning on a dime over here.
For now, we’re ruling out the bullpen. The Bombers should get Darren O’Day back soon, a rehabilitated Justin Wilson might look better, and beyond those two, the ‘pen has been quite good, from Luetge to Loaisiga. There’s no real need to weigh a Greg Holland rental or a Josh Staumont overpay with so many issues lingering in the Bronx.
Conversely, the Yankees could still use help essentially all over the diamond, with left field, center field, and the need for a roving infield helper all dictating the discourse. With the current team needs in mind, we boiled things down to these two trade targets. We love one, and feel meh about the other.
Yankees Trade Target to Watch: Whit Merrifield
We understand Whit Merrifield would be an expensive addition. We understand the Yankees would have to overpay to bring his versatility to the Bronx.
But dammit, how can you not like this guy?
Merrifield has been dinged by the dead ball a bit in 2021, but he’s still hit six homers, knocked in 40 runs, and has stolen 20 bases in 20 tries along with a .737 OPS. His OPS+ is decidedly league-average (100 on the nose), and though this slight decline hasn’t sapped him of his effectiveness, perhaps it’s made the Royals reevaluate his trade value? After all, every year they hold onto him is another year of potential regression, and 2022 is his final year under his current dirt-cheap contract (plus a team option in 2023). He’d be available for the rest of 2022 at a figure that fits under the luxury tax threshold ($4.06 million AAV, so $2 million for half a year?).
We’re not saying the Yankees will be able to get Merrifield for Rougned Odor and call it a day, but with a few helium alerts in their system, maybe now is the time to cash in on Anthony Volpe if they intend to either stick with Gleyber Torres or sign a high-dollar shortstop this offseason? Perhaps Volpe, a projectable top-10 pitcher like Yoendrys Gomez, and a third option (the powerful Trevor Hauver?) would be enough to get a deal done?
Any team that gives Odor the number of at-bats the Yankees do could use a replacement infielder, and Merrifield can rip singles and speed around the bases at left and center (in a pinch), too. He’d be able to provide a rest for any number of overtaxed players. We’re very much on board, potentially on the…semi-cheap?