While every Yankees fan is rightly focused on upgrading the Joey Gallo spot with either Andrew Benintendi or Ian Happ — no one else will do — there are plenty more areas on the current roster that could use a little sprucing up.
Though it’s hard to believe a team that entered July with a 12.5-game lead, one of the largest in the sport’s history at that fencepost, could improve much, that’s actually not the case. This historically great Yanks team is also somehow not that close to maxing out, and leaves a five-game stretch with Houston shaking their heads wondering if their offense can match the pitching.
Is that fair? Partly yes, partly no. No fan should be leaving that battle feeling hopeless about the team with the best record under all circumstances this season (when trailing, against over-.500 teams, etc.). However, the offense showed up in a few dramatic sequences over the five-game span, but didn’t show much consistency and was nearly no-hit twice. In a short playoff series, that’s less than ideal, no matter how many games Aaron Judge stole.
The pitching must be solidified, with both potential innings-eaters for the rotation (best-case Luis Castillo, worst-case Merrill Kelly) and bullpen options (David Robertson, anyone?). The offensive concerns are more top-of-mind, though; anyone who’s watched this team on a daily basis knows changes are almost certainly coming in the outfield.
Beyond the names that have been discussed ad nauseam, these three potential options seem to have flown under the radar entirely, but could be both perfect fits and very available.
And yes, there are a few Yankees rivals involved.
3 Yankees trade deadline targets no one is mentioning for 2022
3. Old Friend Brandon Drury
Remember Brandon Drury? The power-hitting infielder for whom the Yankees went out on a limb in a multi-player deal, only to eventually learn he was having undiagnosed vision issues?
Drury was as tough-to-watch as they came in 2018, wrapping up an 18-game stint with a .176 average and a single home run before he was shipped to Toronto with Billy McKinney for JA Happ in a rapid wave of the white flag. The third baseman was as invisible in Yankee pinstripes as the baseball was to him during his Yankee tenure.
But now? After bouncing around between the Jays and Mets, the now-29-year-old Drury has found an equilibrium in Cincinnati, after putting together a secretly effective season off the bench in Queens last year, too. Drury is hitting .274/.332/.532 with 16 homers and a 127 OPS+, and has an outside shot at being named the Reds’ All-Star Game representative in the weeks to come.
Whether the Yankees attempt to acquire him or not likely depends on how far Josh Donaldson’s slide goes in the coming weeks, if he’s even able to stay healthy long enough to provide us with enough of a data set. Drury’s a right-handed hitter, but he’s also logged time in the outfield throughout his career, and can aid with bench versatility as well if Donaldson remains active (or begins to clear a very low bar for offensive production).
A Drury addition wouldn’t rock the boat spectacularly or cost too much. If the Yankees do decide to be extremely proactive and upgrade at third base (or, at least, behind Donaldson), he’d be an excellent fit.