Outfielders are arguably the most expendable assets in all of baseball. They’re plentiful, easy to find, and more times than not are versatile if the situation calls for it. That’s why the New York Yankees potentially trading for Pittsburgh Pirates star Bryan Reynolds would be a total waste if Aaron Judge doesn’t re-sign.
If Reynolds is a high-end supplementary piece to convince Judge to stay, then by all means. Trade the prospects necessary. Don’t look back. Go for it all from 2023-2025. If Reynolds is a Plan B should Judge depart for the San Francisco Giants, then general manager Brian Cashman is wasting valuable assets.
Such a move also wouldn’t align with how the Yankees conduct business, anyway. They almost never trade top talent to give their star-studded rosters an extra jolt. So why in the world would they do it to put an underachieving roster nowhere close where it needs to be?
Even if Judge re-signs, as currently constructed, this team isn’t good enough. We could sit here and argue injuries have played a large role in derailing a few runs since 2017, but the counterargument would be that the depth isn’t formidable.
In theory, the Yankees would probably have to trade both Jasson Dominguez and Oswald Peraza in a deal for Reynolds. Whether or not you’re a prospect hugger, that seems like a pretty short-sighted deal considering Peraza’s already flashed promise and Dominguez figures to take over after Harrison Bader’s departure come next offseason. For 2023, Reynolds would have to play out of position, which just doesn’t make much sense.
Yankees can’t trade for Bryan Reynolds if Aaron Judge doesn’t re-sign
Let’s talk rebuttal now. Reynolds is a proven commodity. He’s an All-Star-caliber player on both sides of the ball. He’s controllable through 2025. He’s been one of the league’s most impressive outfielders since 2019.
On the Yankees’ side of things, Dominguez is unproven, and some might argue has been underwhelming since making his professional debut (despite his resurgence in 2022). As for Peraza, the Yankees clearly covet Anthony Volpe more, so they’d be trading from an area of surplus.
So then what’s the plan? Move forward with an underwhelming Gleyber Torres and an aging infield consisting of Anthony Rizzo, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu? Reynolds won’t be cost-effective for long, either! He’ll make $6.75 million in 2023 and then have major escalating salaries in 2024 and 2025. If the Yankees are looking to be smart and spread around their money without Judge, while also elevating their top talent the next two seasons, then why would they trade cost-effective talent when they can just pay somebody like Brandon Nimmo, who’s better than Reynolds, in the event Judge leaves?
Plus, if Judge leaves, there’s a need for two outfielders in both 2023 and 2024. Why would you trade your best outfield prospect for another outfielder, unless there’s a plan to import another? And also, why spend this much on the outfield for a non-Aaron Judge acquisition when the infield and bullpen require more attention? Why bid for an outfielder in an overly crowded trade market?
Reynolds likely isn’t a building block, either. He’s about to turn 28 with three years of control left. Think the Yankees are going to pay a player entering his age-31 season when the time comes?
Because they might not do it with the reigning MVP right now.