Yankees: 3 trade pieces NYY should buy for 2022 season

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Max Kepler #26 of the Minnesota Twins (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

Now that the Yankees’ Max Scherzer dream is officially dead — he said no, Shohei Ohtani-style — we can move onto bigger and better things.

Well, smaller and … and maybe less good, but we have to keep Gerrit Cole happy on a long-term deal, so we have to re-tool for 2022. Those are the rules. As strange and cursed as things have looked throughout 2021, they’re not that far off.

Not sure about you, but we have less than no interest in punting next year before it even starts, especially because Cole’s prime won’t last forever.

Even if you’d like to see radical change in the Bronx, you have to admit we don’t have indefinite time to work with. That’s why these 2022-focused trades should be pursued rather than a desecration of the roster.

So, what do we need? Other than a complete and total mojo replacement?

The bullpen has been battered, and it might behoove the team to flip either Aroldis Chapman or Zack Britton and try to re-tool with several cheaper options with extended control (try Steven Ridings or another Triple-A arm?). First and foremost, though, the team needs lefty bats, controllable rotation arms, and POWER.

With those goals in mind, we’ve narrowed down our 2022 wishlist to three realistic candidates. Not pictured are Ketel Marte, who we’d very much love but who’s fallen off the radar lately and could remain Arizona’s centerpiece for a while, and Trea Turner, who is an obvious fit but is currently out with COVID. Let’s reassess in the fall, considering he has declared he won’t be in Washington long-term.

If we were the Yankees … we’d have already traded for Robbie Grossman and Max Scherzer, because we live in a fantasy.

But there’s still time to add a few big helps for next season.

The Yankees should pursue these 3 2022 trade candidates.

3. Max Kepler

The rumor-mongers have been circling the Max Kepler waters for a few days now, and we’ve settled into the fit as a certified good one.

Kepler is under contract through 2023 with a team option for 2024, so if the Yanks like what they see for 2.5 full seasons of a theoretical contention window, they hold the cards here.

Though the right fielder is not better than Aaron Judge (that was a fun few weeks of the pandemic, huh?), he’s still a valuable hitter who has a solid-to-good chance of finding the short porch every time he steps to the plate in the Bronx. Bizarrely, though, he’s struggled at Yankee Stadium over the course of his career (.182 with two bombs in 13 games), but the simple explanation for that could be the universe trying to remind him he’s a Twin playing the Yanks. That typically doesn’t go well.

Since his 2019 breakout, featuring a 20th-place MVP finish and 36 home runs with the rocket ball in play, Kepler has followed up his 124 OPS+ with a shortened season and 2021 campaign that both feature 110 OPS+ marks. Just because he’s left the front of your cerebral cortex does not mean he isn’t a valuable and versatile left-handed hitter who could navigate the outfield and fill in when necessary.

Even if Kepler eventually ends up as your fourth outfielder instead of the aging Brett Gardner, that’s a pretty good piece.