Times are tough if you’re Joey Gallo. The New York Yankees slugger is now 98 games into his tenure with the team and there have been no signs of him turning his play around (18 homers, 29 RBI, .570 OPS, 67 OPS+ and 140 strikeouts).
The issues became even more glaring, too, when the lineup was hit with injuries in recent weeks. Despite (on-the-surface) less talented players grabbing starting reps with Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Donaldson and Tim Locastro on the shelf, Gallo continues to drop lower and lower in the lineup.
On Sunday, he was demoted to ninth in what was ostensibly rock bottom (one can only hope) for his time in the Bronx. Even worse? The sports writing world is abuzz with potential solutions for him in the Yankees lineup before this year’s trade deadline.
He could be dealt less than a year since he’s been acquired. In 2021, the Yankees made a big swap with the Rangers for Gallo (and Joely Rodriguez), sending four top prospects to Texas.
- Yankees receive: OF Joey Gallo and RP Joely Rodriguez
- Rangers receive: SS Josh Smith (No. 14-ranked prospect, per MLB), 2B Ezequiel Duran (No. 15), UTIL Trevor Hauver (No. 23) and SP Glenn Otto (No. 28)
At the time, all four prospects were in the Yankees’ top 30 but three were going to be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft That Actually Never Happened that coming offseason (and the Yankees more than likely would have lost all of them for nothing in return). Hauver was the only “asset” that was ditched.
Tracking the former Yankees prospects from 2021 Joey Gallo trade with Rangers
Those “angry” about the Yankees making a move for Gallo should only feel that way because New York picked the wrong outfielder to trade for (they could’ve had Kyle Schwarber, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson or Starling Marte). There’s no need, however, to be frustrated with the players who were sent to the Rangers.
Let’s take a look at how they’re doing in 2022 to further drive that point home:
- Smith – .273 AVG, .805 OPS, 30 runs scored, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB in 40 games at Triple-A (just got promoted to MLB)
- Duran – .311 AVG, .932 OPS, 32 runs scored, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 7 SB in 41 games at Double-A
- Hauver – .252 AVG, .856 OPS, 17 runs scored, 5 HR, 28 RBI in 35 games at High-A
- Otto – 4.33 ERA, 4.75 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 29 strikeouts in seven starts (35.1 innings) with Rangers
Not bad! Good for those guys. But nothing for the Yankees to regret … because we can compare these players to the equivalent talent in the Yankees’ system at the moment and see the difference.
- No. 14 prospect P Brock Selvidge – team’s youngest pitching prospect at Yankees spring training complex
- No. 15 prospect P Randy Vasquez – 2.43 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in seven starts at Double-A (29.2 innings)
- No. 23 prospect P JP Sears – 2 ER in 2022 between six Triple-A appearances and three MLB appearances (28.2 total innings)
- No. 26 prospect OF Elijah Dunham – .266 AVG, .876 OPS, 17 runs scored, 7 homers, 22 RBI, 11 stolen bases in 33 games at Double-A
Deivi Garcia is the Yankees’ No. 28 prospect, but he hasn’t been part of the Yankees’ plans since late 2020, so it’s not a worth comparison. Dunham is more appropriate despite being two spots higher than Otto was last year, and it’s important to note that young guys like Sears and Clarke Schmidt have positively contributed to the big league club while the Yankees bolstered their farm system. The additions of SS Roderick Arias (No. 1 international prospect) and SS Trey Sweeney (2021 first-round pick) while witnessing the notable ascension of others like Anthony Volpe (No. 1 prospect), Austin Wells (No. 4), Ken Waldichuk (No. 5), Hayden Wesneski (No. 7) and Everson Pereira (No. 10) over the last year has altered the complexion of the Yankees farm system for the better.
The prospects in Texas are doing well for themselves, but the Yankees had talent at the MLB level blocking all of them and have younger talent arguably better than them (or on the same trajectory). The risk to acquire Gallo was minimal and will hardly affect the future of this team.
Gallo going from All-Star to unplayable is the story here, and the Yankees can rid themselves of this horrific narrative if they find a more productive replacement before it’s too late.