1. Predicting Yankees Moves: Outfield
Here’s where we get to be downers again: as we see it, the Red Sox are going to get Seiya Suzuki on a deal the Yankees are going to regret not completing. Five years, $64 million and a whole lot of patience and pop in right field at Fenway Park. The Yankees were reportedly “aggressive,” but the buzz (and Hunter Renfroe trade) have favored the Sox.
Hey, maybe it doesn’t work out. Probably wouldn’t if we’d done it. Regardless, that’s our prediction.
So, how do the Yankees cope? A healthy dose of Aaron Hicks staying healthy could help, but this isn’t team-building in Candy Land. That just will not happen. Joey Gallo in left’s a (relative) sure thing, but you can’t even count on 150 games of Aaron Judge in right, as much as we’d like to. That’s … why we wanted Suzuki so much! Onward.
Odds are Brett Gardner will still be around waiting to poach a spot when March rolls around, but we’re going to instead predict two names that Yankees fans are already familiar with: Kevin Pillar and Tommy Pham, welcome to the Bronx.
Using the highly analytical Jose Peraza Scale, Pillar will be New York’s gritty, gutty backup center field option in 2022, which is actually fine if he doesn’t get run into the ground. In 2020, Peraza and Pillar were Red Sox teammates. 2021? They were both Mets. 2022? Peraza’s now a Yankee, so … Kevin … we’re waiting.
Nearly 33, Pillar smacked 15 homers with an 88 OPS+ last season in Flushing, with his trademark all-out defense (how many times did he Superman the Yankees in Toronto?). 100 Pillar games is probably his upper limit, but there’s value there.
As for Pham? He’s an ex-Rays outfielder, which is typically how the Yankees operate: three or four years behind the smarter team in Tampa. Last season, Pham was worth 1.4 WAR in San Diego, posting a 103 OPS+. He’s done nothing but hit in the past, though, with a 120 OPS+ in (where else?) Tampa back in 2019, following a ridiculous 194 mark in 39 games after the Rays freed him from the Cardinals the previous year. In this instance, Pham is our insurance for a Judge injury or a Gallo disaster. You could do much worse.
The Phillies or Red Sox will get Kyle Schwarber. If the Sox pass on Schwarber, they’ll nab Suzuki — they didn’t just create an outfield hole for no reason. New York will be content to fill in the gaps here, even though they should probably have gone bigger for a starting center fielder. With Hicks under contract through 2056, though, that was never going to happen just yet.