Andrew Benintendi or Ian Happ? Ian Happ or Andrew Benintendi? Or … hear me out … Ian Happ? If Yankees fans aren’t already tired of this debate by early July, just wait until the deadline approaches and the offers intensify.
Every speculator on earth knows that the Yankees need a left-handed outfield bat, and every speculator on earth also knows that Benintendi and Happ are the two most likely options, as well as the two best. Which should the Yankees prefer? The power bat or the contact hitter? And if everyone involved knows the Yanks are about to go all in on this particular market, shouldn’t that serve as motivation to jump the line and outbid them?
Yup! That’s why Bombers fans should be hoping that a few other targets ultimately hit the market and dilute things.
In the outfield specifically, there are two Orioles — Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander — who both make sense. The O’s would probably rather not deal within the American League East, though, so either both men will stay put or go elsewhere (or the Bombers will have to pay a significant Yankee Tax to finish a deal).
Then there’s Bryan Reynolds, who could send the outfield market to the stratosphere if the Pirates actually decide to dangle him (something the Yankees should be involved in, too). Either New York pays a hefty price for Reynolds, or they “settle” on a suddenly cheaper Happ/Benny, which they wanted to do all along. Win-win.
Perhaps there’ll be a few surprise entrants in the field, though? Some near-.500 teams are beginning to slip well below that mark. A few supposed contenders are lingering way closer to the .500 mark than they think they belong. Maybe these teams, run by intelligent people who know when to pull the plug, will be able to help the Yankees with their outfield hole and pitching depth (both starting and in relief).
4 Yankees trade targets who Brian Cashman should hope become available
3. Joc Pederson
If Joc Pederson ends up on the market at the deadline for the second straight season, how high up on your wishlist does he fly? Straight to the top?
Pederson is a lefty masher with attitude whose “stuff” clearly works in the postseason, considering he established the month of “Joctober” with the Dodgers before riding his pearls to a 2021 Atlanta Braves Fall Classic win. Having Pederson on your team guarantees a bit of additional juice. It’s a fact.
Somehow, though, it’s not really working for the San Francisco Giants, a team that’s free falling towards the .500 mark despite a borderline All-Star first half from Pederson. The 30-year-old has mashed 17 homers (.909 OPS) while driving in 41 runs through 70 games, and despite being known as a “power sellout,” he’s only whiffed 51 times this season.
Additionally, the mysterious, “Yeah, but can he hit high-level pitching in October?” question has been answered with a resounding, “YES” several years running. No mystery there. Perhaps Pederson won’t win an individual battle or will falter in a specific small sample size, but it’s well-established he has what it takes to come through when it matters.
Happ may be the more complete player and Benintendi might be the familiar rival, but Pederson would be a spectacular addition to the 2022 Yankees — or whoever ends up playing in the World Series, considering he seems to make his way there annually.