The New York Yankees’ need for an outfielder at the trade deadline isn’t quite as pronounced as it seemed a few weeks back. In early June, the consensus was that the Bombers would need to replace both Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo with a left-handed option who could cause more consistent damage. Ian Happ of the Cubs and Andrew Benintendi of the Royals were the overwhelming favorites to occupy the role; after that, who else was there?
One month later, circumstances have shifted a bit. Gallo is still struggling at an historic rate, but Hicks has picked up his sticks, hitting .264 with a .374 OBP and .516 slugging in his past 30 games. That’ll certainly play.
Then, there’s the Matt Carpenter factor. The ex-Cardinal, nearly shunted aside yet again a few weeks back, just continues to hit from the left side/play both left and right. His absurd OPS+ of 267 and 10 homers in 64 at-bats proves the magic isn’t gone yet, and the expanding sample size shows he might render a trade unnecessary.
Unfortunately, the priority shift has also come in large part because of the team’s sudden starting pitching woes. Laid out plainly at Fenway Park over the weekend, Nestor Cortes has slipped of late, and Jameson Taillon has struggled mightily in six of his past seven outings, raising his season ERA to 4.01 (6.75 in his past five starts). If the team is going to surrender high-profile trade chips, they might be dedicated to a rotation upgrade rather than an outfield bat.
That has reportedly led the Bombers down the road to a different Royals outfielder: light-hitting Michael A Taylor, who is on the team’s radar. Known for his defense, the metrics don’t quite line up.
Yankees Rumors: NYY eyeing Michael A Taylor trade with Royals
Theoretically, Taylor could spell Aaron Judge and save his legs, an important factor down the stretch. Does he really contribute anything that, say, Tim Locastro or Estevan Florial, couldn’t provide in his stead? Taylor’s center field defense leaves something to be desired; he’s in the 42nd percentile in outs above average and 54th in outfielder jump.
Additionally, Taylor is a right-handed bat locked down through 2023, and a light-hitting one at that. He’s in the midst of his best offensive season, sporting a .264 average alongside five homers, 24 RBI and a .725 OPS (and, somehow, just a single stolen base).
Taylor seems to be an iconic clubhouse figure on a young Kansas City roster, but his home-run pop has also been ironically coopted into a team t-shirt, so what does that tell you?
Taylor’s reputation precedes him; he seems to be more well-liked than game-changing in center field. Making things even worse for the Bombers: Taylor is one of 10 Kansas City Royals who remain unvaccinated, alongside fellow trade target Andrew Benintendi. Say goodbye to that Sept. series in Toronto.
If he ends up a Yankee after all, that’ll mean the team compromised significantly on their initial trade discussions and pivoted significantly. It better also mean they cashed in for an ace.